Thursday, September 30, 2010

ever the adventurers

The week's half over and I really wanted to share our last adventure...

I was invited to attend an event in Portland (although our dogs had glamorized the big city with gloriously exaggerated names, those dogs have left -Paw Lee and Princess Phat- and we now have two borrowed dogs named Lop Ears and Shy Girl. Lop and Shy don't glamorize anything, in fact, they actually think of Portland as the Stink and Noise place. So off we went, my brother and I, to Stink and Noise...

We were going to an event called "Dancing in the Square" and it was hosted in honor of American Indian Day...did you know there WAS such a day? Side comment - I love watching these older gentlemen play chess at the square, they're very intent on their game and it's like the hustle and bustle of harried shoppers and joyous buskers aren't a part of their world. Such focus.

The Dancing the in Square was an interesting visit for me, I used to live in this city, I used to love the noise and the hurry and the clackers (you know, the sound of stilettos on the bricks of the square), I used to perm my hair and {shudder} even had my bi-weekly NAIL appointments. I chuckle at that now, I don't have time, couldn't do what I do and don't even CARE about these things the huckleberries care if my nails are groomed? Do the songs ring out stronger if my hair is kinky? No...HOWEVER I do love the

Ahhhhh, but again, I digress...   At the gathering there were many groups of drummers, the one in this picture particularly caught our ears, they were melodious and STRONG. We listened to a few others but really, these were our favorites for the day...

In the picture here is the whip man, who runs the dance arena. This wasn't the traditional role of a whipman and I actually think that whole idea should be left for another time...

Non-Indians were welcomed to the floor to share THEIR versions of our dances, it was fun and made for a lot of laughter and comraderie.


AFTER the big event, off to revelries and frivolities...beverages flowing cooly through minty straws and this strange looking creature caught my know the drill, I had to take the picture! It was kind of eery and odd in a comfy do the math:-)

Visiting with the kids commenced and that's yet another long story...we'll save it.

Saturday, while driving around Miss Nellie, we took a jaunt up the hill to see the Pittock was a nice little detour

Of course, during said visit, grand-daughter number four found time to play footsie with my brother:

It was amazing. We drove out of the humid noise and bustle of Portland up to the cool mountainy air of Mt Hood. At one of our rest stops I walked around a little bit...these purple flowers were literally BEGGING me to take their picture. I obliged of course because I too appreciated their vigorously purple air of strength and wild.

I love wild horses - these were showing off along the way

You can smell juniper as soon as you get to this part of the state...I LOVE this smell!!!


I found some kind of flora to brother patiently waited for me and sneakily took my picture
I just love the artistry in our surroundings...

We were greeted affectionately by Sir Chitten Chat upon our safe arrival home

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lettin' 'Er Buck!!!!!

Pendleton Round Up...

Just the phrase alone has myriads of meanings to each individual...the week was frought with many feelings of impending disaster, for truly, last year's event was tragic and left a lot of Indians feeling sad and at a loss. At last year's Round-Up a stabbing occurred, gang related and involving a lot of our tribal youth. This year many measures were taken to ensure safety, these were of course met with stone-cold faces for as much as we like our independence, we don't like to "be told what to do and when to do it."

On to the you'll note from my pictures, the certain parts of the event are more dear to my heart than others:-)

Historically, the Pendleton Round Up started in 1910. This was the 100th year and as such was slated as the event of a lifetime. Indians had a history of participating since it's inception...please look that up for there are many more interesting pictures than I can provide here:-)

I wanted to share about the beauty pageant and I as I was reading other reviews I came across these words WHICH ARE NOT MINE - THEY ARE EXCERPTED FROM AN EAST OREGONIAN NEWSPAPER ARTICLE:
By ERIN MILLS East Oregonian

Like an enchanted maze, the Indian Village on the morning of the Junior American Indian Beauty Pageant revealed a gem around every corner.

Standing near her family’s teepee, each contestant soaked up the diligent attention of her female relatives. Braided, furred, dressed, belted, beaded and moccasined, she bloomed into a classic Indian maiden of the Columbia Plateau.

Their dresses were handed down from their grandmothers, their belts carefully beaded by moms and aunties. They were drenched in history. But for most of them, the beauty pageant was all about feeling pretty.

“It’s fun because I don’t get to dress up like this a lot,” said L’Rissa Sohappy as her mother, LeAnn Alexander, tucked and polished her regalia.

“I can see all the regalia and see other people’s regalia — it’s so pretty,” said Julia Ikeandrews, 8, a Yakama Nation member from White Swan, Wash.

Julia wore a beaded belt, cuffs and leggings handed down from her great-grandmother and her grandmother’s breastplate. Her mother, Raye Ikeandrews, said Julia is excited to dress up every year. They always travel to Pendleton for the Round-Up, she said.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.

Many families still reunite at the Indian Village every year from all over southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and Idaho. Traditionally, a family camps in one section of the village year after year.

Teepees are not a traditional dwelling of Plateau Indians, but sleeping under a circle of poles, surrounded by family, still feels like a return to traditional times.

“You get up in the morning, look around and it’s kind of like you’re stepping back in time,” said Wilson Totus, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The morning of the beauty pageant, Totus was busy looking after his young grandchildren, a few of whom were getting ready for the event. He no longer rides in the relay races or performs in Happy Canyon, he said, but the Indian Village is important — it’s all about family.

Other key parts of the Round Up included the Dancing in the Park:

For all the dancers there has to be drummers, some of THESE are my brothers!

Below is my good friend Tut who although pretty young carries with her the wisdom of ages and the grace of a woman who knows her world and freely walks it. She didn't win but she should have...
Round up was full of fun and excitement - I had the honor or driving around the golf carts so some of the Elders didn't have to walk very far. It was an amazing task because some of these elders had the most astounding and fun stories to tell! The flip side was that of course I had to hear about all the complaints they had as well...I'm perfectly happy to take the good along with the bad!

The carnival was part of the festivities and here's a quick fact: the carnival that comes to this event is the same one I used to work for in the 70's.

I would be remiss in not sharing the visits I had with the many horses in attendance at the Round Up...

My favorite horse as it turns out, was ridden by CTUIR General Council Chairman AH. The horse's name is Bart although upon our first meeting I asked him (the horse) about several other names. Bart missed me when I didn't come by to kiss his velvety nose, and would talk to the other horses about me "you know that one girl? the one who calls us by other names but gives us kisses?" "No, you're crazy, I only know MY girl who tried to talk to me (using clucks and clicks) but I don't quite get her..." We went to feed Bart one night and grabbed some hay from the stack at the end of the line where the Percherons stayed and one of the big golden giants whuffled at us "excuse me, that's OURS, would you please put it BACK?" so I handed him a handful and he JERKED it out of my hand...."THANK YOU that's GOOD but please put the other BACK"

I could actually go on and on about the horses and their conversations but Round Up was a week ago and I already have a NEW story to shared...
Hope you had a good weekend!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is Labor Day Weekend already over????

You can't even IMAGINE my surprise when I realized it's ROUND UP time here in my little corner of the world ( everyone in my universe was scurrying about getting tepee poles and checking their tepees then mending them...getting their regalia prepared for all of the parades and dancing and other activities that we Indians do during this Big Deal.

Because for myself, I was getting ready for Labor Day...our big weekend to go to Wellpinit Washington for our favorite stickgame of the year.

The trip up to Wellpinit was full of laughter and fun as well as amazing views. Our arrival at the grounds was met with joyous laughter and excitement. NOW we're ready to go play!!!!

Stickgame? It's an (American) Indian gambling game - a guessing game. There are two sets of "bones" one is marked and eleven sticks. The game is to acquire ALL of the sticks (each team starts out with five sticks and one has the "kick stick"). The "kick stick" is what determines who starts the game - two captains face each other with a set of the bones and guesses how the other one hides them. The one who guesses correctly first gets to start the game. Bets are placed by giving money to the captain...

Songs are sung to "distract" the opponent and these songs are melodious yet raucous; precise and yet so wild. You really have to hear them in order to understand their depth and fun.
The songs for this game are old and fun and amazing in so many ways. I don't know the meaning of all of them, but one of them is a "Prairie dog" it's being sung, you can just imagine the prairie dog popping up from one hole and then another as it teases and tricks it's opponent. As you can see the games are big with a LOT of money staked by each team (it's a double or nothing bet).

One of the concepts about stickgame that I love so much is that here we are, hundreds of people gathered to play together. We came from all different tribes, sat down next to each other full knowing we'd never met and maybe will not see each other again, yet in unity, we lift our voices unity, we laugh and cheer when the bones are on our side and we win as a team another stick, in unity, we happily collect our money when the game's over and move on to the next game...and yet in two weeks, we may sit across the table from one another and look at each other suspiciously over a water rights issue or a fishing issue or who can get more funds for diabetes...but for TODAY, we're in unity.

The gentleman and his family from this motorhome had a dinner and invited us to eat with them. What hospitality!

My friend got to see her sister whom she hadn't seen in months and months! It was a happy reunion for them.

It was a beautiful trip but we were SO ready for home when we left:-)

headed home!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

here comes change!!!!

It's not hellatiously hot outside...oh, don't get me wrong, when it heats up it's still a force to be reckoned with! I'm just sayin'

Driving home from work the smell of pea harvest has morphed into the rich warm scent of wheat being threshed and pouring like liquid gold into awaiting trucks. The pheasants don't take this too well, they can be heard clucking and yelling "GET OUT, this is MINE" in their raucous pheasant voices.

I love change. It's something I don't believe I embraced until age began "curling my edges" if you will...I no longer cling to the idea of running up river at the slightest view of the sun...I run headlong into the cacophony of color as the leaves change and a new season opens the door to adventures untouched.

Now the scent of berries wafts throughout the community as busy mamas are canning their jams and jellies and preparing for the upcoming winter.

In our home we have another change - our dogs aren't very pleased with this but we now have a cat. His name is Lulx which is the Nez Perce word for coffee - silly name for a cat, but he's the color of coffee with canned milk added...he tends to tease the dogs, for the advent of his arrival was an assignment - he is here to dissuade those pesky mice from settling in for the winter. This means his domain is the INSIDE and all dogs are kept's funny really, they didn't mind being "outside dogs" until he arrived.
Change of season means time to sew as well...I made new wing dresses for ceremonies and also for men, a set of leggings and hider for a naming. I have more namings (the giving/receiving of an Indian name - a ceremony done differently in different tribes probably) to work towards. I love working on these projects because I thoroughly enjoy running my hands over the colorful fabrics chosen by someone for their new dress and the sound of my sewing machine is soothing as I sew through these projects for people I love. Especially though, I have to say my favorite part of it is just the me they speak so much of the person who chose them.

All in all I'm excited about the changes of THIS season...