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Suquamish Tribe will Pow Wow the crowds once again

SUQUAMISH — Ever since 1911, the life of Chief Seattle has been celebrated every year on his native waters and land. The third weekend in August is reserved to honor the man who helped establish area tribes as they are today.

Because of his accomplishments, his descendants in the Suquamish Tribe open their lands to friends and family for a truly native and cultural experience as the 92nd annual Chief Seattle Days takes place this weekend.

Event Coordinator Ed Midkiff said the celebration of Chief Seattle’s life is an event for both natives and non-natives.

Usually 50 tribes are represented during the three-day gathering that attracts between 5,000 and 10,000 people, Midkiff said.

There are not only Native American tribes, but groups from around the world represented, he added, including New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and Hawaii.

Midkiff said he was also trying to get a friend from Zimbabwe to represent his South African tribe during the performances. Even so, Midkiff said the event is really no different than any other cultural gatherings in the region.

“Every community has their own little thing they do,” he explained. “Only we just show the native culture just like other people do the Scandinavian dances in Poulsbo. So everyone is showing off their culture — how pleased they are as they are.”

A softball tournament (which goes on all weekend), Miss Chief Seattle Days Royalty Pageant and a teen dance is slated for the evening of Aug. 15.

A graveside memorial service for Chief Seattle, parade, Pow Wow and canoe race competitions and dinner will be held Aug. 16.

The event will wrap up Aug. 17 with a fun run, more canoe races and dancing.

The newest attraction this year is the addition of a traditional ocean-going canoe race during the annual competition.

Typically, the races include only thin, narrow, racing canoes. But because the regional tribes recently using the larger, traditional canoes recently, a competition was added for the hand-carved cedar vessels, Midkiff said.

In the new race, participants will leave the Suquamish dock, stop at Jefferson Head near Indianola, retrieve an item from the beach and return to the Suquamish dock. The race time becomes official when the item is given to Miss Chief Seattle Days.

The memorial service for Chief Seattle will be at 9:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. Saturday this year, Midkiff added.

There will also be the special cancel stamp from the Suquamish Post Office. Tribal artist Peggy Deam created the stamp design, which includes the Suquamish native written language, Lushootseed.

Official Chief Seattle Days buttons will also be available as well, Midkiff said. Only 1,000 will be made and collectors can often be seen with their collections on the celebration grounds, he added.

Midkiff said the best part of the whole weekend is that there is something for everyone.

“If you are into history, the memorial service,” Midkiff explained. “If you’re into the Pow Wow trail, the drumming and the dancing. All the dances they do are traditional dances. They’ve been handed down to these people from old times. If you are into drums, the drums are really awesome.”

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