Umatilla County – On Friday, November 18th, the Weston-McEwen High School hosted a group of Native American youth dancers and drummers from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) for Pow Wow Day. Merle Kirk, Indian Education Coordinator/Title VI for Pilot Rock and Athena – Weston School Districts, organized the dancers to perform for Athena-Weston School District. The assembly was hosted in the high school gymnasium and gathered the whole district together for the event.
The dancers included Taylor Quaempts, Alexis Maddern, and Manaia Wolf of Weston-McEwen High School and Stella Wolf of Weston Middle School. Additional dancers from Nixya’awii Community School (NCS) included Sky Smith, Lillian Watchman, Sadie Nowland, and Alayna Bevis. The dancers wore a variety of special regalia, including beaded buckskin dresses, fancy dancer shawls, and a dentalium cape. Fred Hill Senior, Cultural Education and Language teacher at Nixya’awii, brought several students to sing and drum for the assembly. Regarding the drum circle, Althea Wolf noted, “They sing at various events like ours but also for visiting dignitaries at the tribe or the casino. There are multiple drums in the CTUIR community, but this drum group is the NCS student drum under the charge of Mr. Hill.” Wolf added that she has been working to help establish a Native American Indian Club for the school, which would make gatherings like the Pow Wow Day assembly more regular as an annual event.
CTUIR Reservation lands encompass roughly a third of the Athena-Weston School District and approximately 6% of the students identify as Native American Indian. The district is working to recognize traditions from a variety of cultures. Among the fall curriculum is a lesson and demonstration of the First Foods, which Kirk is organizing for Athena Elementary School. District Superintendent and Weston Middle School Principal Ann Vescio stated, “We want to highlight the rich diversity of culture and bounty of harvest from the lands where we live. This time of year is perfect for reminding everyone about this shared legacy of stewardship.” She added, “We are grateful for the CTUIR’s partnership on these educational events.”