Pendleton Round Up...
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:
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...