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Changing seasons, changing attitudes

SUQUAMISH — The respected elders of Native American tribes envision the coming of spring as a time of revitalization, and members of the Suquamish Tribe hope to emphasize the same idea with younger generations this weekend at its Renewal Powwow.

While the main focus of the event is to recognize alcohol- and drug-free lifestyles and celebrate sobriety, coordinator Ed Midkiff said he believes anyone who attends will benefit from the energy that is expected to be created.

“It’s about everybody learning to operate together as a community,” the tribal elder explained. “Also learn how to change our lifestyles through sobriety. Some people had different afflictions and want to renew their lives.”

The powwow was a regular event for the youth center for about a decade until a few years ago when the center was reorganized. Midkiff, Wellness Program Coordinator Chuck Wagner and tribal member Leonard Forsman have been working to bring back the event to emphasize the importance of living and being well.

The event will start at 8:30 a.m. March 27 with a prayer circle at the tribal center followed by sweat lodge events at 9 a.m. “for purification.”

At 10:30 a.m, a talking circle will take place followed by a salmon luncheon. The powwow will continue with a Grand Entry at 1 p.m., then dinner and another Grand Entry at 7 p.m. with traditional dancing and drumming.

“It’s getting everyone back on the dance floor (after dinner),” Midkiff explained about the two grand entries. There would also be a Tiny Tot and Miss Renewal Powwow Pageant, which is open to everyone.

The event is free and both tribal and non-tribal members are encouraged to attend. Members of the youth center will be holding fund-raisers to help pay for day trips, the annual canoe journey, repairs to the youth center and other cultural activities.

Midkiff said he believes that those who attend will discover area residents who are recovering or trying to better themselves are not alone.

“It’s being around other people who are also trying to improve their lives —

a rather large support group,” Midkiff said, noting that the event is not just about chemical dependency, but personal life-style changes as well.

“It’s also welcoming the new season,” he added. “It’s a renewal going from winter to spring. That’s one of the things the older tribal people used to do — they had a gathering and welcoming for the change. We’re trying to bring that back for the youth and for elders.”

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