JUNE 17, 2010

Ess-Kah-Po Goodwill PowWow held in Orofino

By Melvin Joye

   People of all nationalities were treated to an awesome display of native American dancing at the annual Ess-Kah-Po Goodwill PowWow held at the Orofino High School gymnasium. Great tasty food was the start of the PowWow, then honors and memorials for those who passed on.

   A tribute to an Ess-Kah-Po who participated in the War of 1877 from the Wallowa Band of Nez Perce by the name of Johnson Hoyt who elected to live on the Cavendish Grade until his death. Before his death he was recognized as the last survivor living from the War of 1877. His descendents were honored by the committee with a special dance and gifts.

   Then social dancing followed giving the audience a preview of what was to come later at the sponsors dance contest for special age groups and different dances.

   Saturday contest were a blend of fantastic colors with intricate dance steps for each type of dancing giving the judges for each contest a difficult choice as to who won the contest. Several times extra songs were needed to eventually pick a winner, the dancers were that good.

   The initial purpose of our PowWow was to cultivate better relations with our non-Indian neighbors by formatting our PowWow with hand picked members to present our views, history, culture, roots, berries herbs and spirituality religion, in other words, show that we are not so difficult from our white neighbors and open doors to a better understanding and a forum of communication so we know each other better.

   The desire for an avenue of communication is there. All we need to do is take advantage of the opportunity presented to us. We as tribal members cling very tightly to our history and pass it on so itís not lost forever.

   Those of you who missed this PowWow will want to mark your calendar for next years PowWow so as to not miss viewing native dancing at its best.

   From comments from area white people who want to attend and experience Nez Perce culture often feel intimidated going to Lapwai and Kamiah dances and ceremonies but this PowWow held in your own backyard is set up for you, our white neighbors.

   One woman who works at a local grocery store said her feet were keeping time with the drums, so our PowWow has an effect on anyone who experiences the spirit of our dances.

   Next year I hope to see more people from Orofino.