It’s a dream that has taken years to come true. But on Saturday, May 25, the long-planned Wallowa Band Nez Perce Visitor’s Interpretive Center became an impressive reality. Its contents were developed and vetted by the Wallowa Band Nez Perce. The Center’s new exhibits were fabricated locally. The exhibit is part of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project in Wallowa.
"We're Doing It Because We Think It's Right."
Dancing, drumming and feasting
Perfect weather greeted the hundreds who attended the Tamkaliks Celebration July 20-22. The Sunday friendship feast in Wallowa enjoyed a record number of visitors this year. There is no charge for the event, so visitor count was based on the number of people fed (plates), which featured the usual spread of buffalo, elk and salmon and dozens of homemade side dishes and desserts. There were 600 plates allotted for the feast, and organizers ran out of plates.
PHOTOS BY ELLEN BISHOP
...Saturday competition dancing begins at 1 p.m. Later that night, following the veterans dance at 7 p.m., is an event never seen before at Tamkaliks and not to be missed –– the War Bonnet special.
Fred Hill, chairman of Tamkaliks celebration, said bringing the War Bonnet special to Wallowa is long overdue
“We haven’t had this kind of special event at Tamkaliks, that’s why I felt we needed to do it,” said Hill, who lives in Nixyáawii.
Thomas Morning Owl is helping organize the event. He said when a tribal member brings out an ancestral war bonnet, he is sharing an important piece of his family’s history. In traditional dance, war bonnets are often worn by descendants of former tribal leaders.
“The war bonnets signify leadership roles in the family,” said Morning Owl, who is a resident of Pendleton. “This is a time for people to bring their heirlooms out in the public.”...
Some say the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon, a vast lava flow that emanated from fissures in the earth, are the foothills of the Rockies. The escarpment rises abruptly from 1,000 feet at Pendleton to 3,600 at the top of Cabbage Hill on I-84.To the settlers emigrating on the Oregon Trail, the Blues were the penultimate barrier before reaching the Willamette Valley. To the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, the 1855 Treaty Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation east of Pendleton, they were and are the bountiful source of first foods, a place of recreation and, into the 19th century, a refuge from attack. To the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph Band, they blocked stockmen’s intrusion into the Wallowa Valley until the early 1870s....
The Annual Tamkaliks Rummage Sale and (Buffalo) Chili and Frybread Feed saw a steady stream of visitors last weekend and raised $1,200 toward two $500 Tamkaliks scholarships: the Taz Conner and Terry Crenshaw Memorial.
The fundraising amount was “about average, perhaps a bit more” for the event and considered a great success, said Mary Hawkins, office manager for Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center. “We have a fabulous core group of volunteers. We are very grateful to them.”
Before Lewis and Clark, Oregon Trail ruts, loggers or cattle ranches appeared, the peaceful and powerful Nez Perce, or Nee-Me-Poo (meaning the real people), called the Wallowas home.
Theirs is a familiar, sad story of the West. Discovery of gold led to broken treaties and a forced exodus to a reservation in 1877. Nearly 750 Nez Perce took a 1,170-mile evasive walk instead, pausing to fight the U.S. Army at their heels, before being captured about 40 miles from Canada...