‘There is something special about the sound of bells and shells ringing rhythmically with the soft landing of the feet of people dancing in beautifully decorated tribal wear.”
This dancing, as described by Diane Rodriquez, public information officer for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, is the focus of the annual Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow, taking place this year Friday through Sunday, Aug. 9 to 11, in Siletz.
The Nesika Illahee is the first of two pow-wows held each year by the tribe; the second will be at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in November.
“The summer pow-wow is about competition so you’ll get to see some wonderful dancing,” Rodriquez said. “The restoration is more about being social and celebrating the restoration of the tribe.”
The weekend starts on Friday at 6 pm with the crowning of the 2019-20 Siletz Royalty. Participants dressed in all dance styles will enter the arena at 7 pm during the first Grand Entry, followed by preliminary rounds of competition for kids and teens.
A parade will wind through downtown Siletz at 10 am on Saturday that will include Tribal royalty, drummers, dancers, equestrian units, vintage cars and floats.
On Sunday, a Grand Entry takes place at noon. This session includes team dances, a women’s basket cap special and a round bustle special for men. It will end with awards for the Golden Age, adult, teen and youth category winners. Prizes range from $25 to $600.
Throughout the event, there will be plenty of vendors with beadwork, jewelry, moccasins, art and more.
“There is always lots of good food,” Rodriquez said. “There will also be some coffee vendors and if you get cold there are plenty of places to buy sweatshirts.”
Each year there are also at least two raffles that you do not need to be present to win.
“The elders always have one, “Rodriquez said. “They use the money for traveling for elder honor days, to send flowers to someone who’s in the hospital and for others ways to support their community.”
Though the event affords ample opportunities for beautiful photos, there are some rules you should follow to make sure you are showing respect.
“You really want listen to the announcer who will say when it’s a time you should not take photos,” Rodriquez said. “But there are other times like during prayer, or if an eagle feather drops that you really should keep your camera put away. Just pay attention to cues, and if you see someone in particular that you want to photograph, just ask.”
The announcer also will explain the significance of the events taking place in the dance arena throughout the pow-wow.
Rodriquez said Friday is a great day to experience the magic of the pow-wow without the crowds that can fill the grounds on the weekend.
“People are still fresh and I love the buzz that happens when the color guard starts moving in,” she said, “there’s an amazing energy.”
All events, except the parade, take place at the Pauline Ricks Memorial Pow-Wow Grounds on Government Hill in Siletz. Parking is extremely limited at the pow-wow grounds; a free shuttle will be available from various parking lots in Siletz. Signs will be posted. For more information, go to www.ctsi.nsn.us.