The annual Tamkaliks Nez Perce homecoming celebration was held July 19-21 at the Tamkaliks grounds in Wallowa, Oregon.
The original Wallowa Band descendents hold this reunion celebration every year on the third weekend of July. The three day celebration is filled with dancing, drumming and friendship and many look forward to it all year.
This year, 80 registered dancers competed as well as 12 drum circles. Visitors came from all over, including guests from Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan and Spain, to attend this year’s festivities.
Fred Hill and Thomas Morning Owl kept crowds entertained as the masters of ceremonies for the 2019 homecoming celebration.
Things kicked off Saturday with a memorial procession, led by Celeste “Cece” Whitewolf on foot. Whitewolf has ancestry of Cayuse and Nisqually, and Wallowa-Band Nez Perce. Whitewolf lives in Tigard Oregon. Although she missed the first two Tamkaliks celebrations, she has attended every year thereafter. Whitewolf enjoys the social dancing on Friday night and says it is very spiritual.
Logan Quaemps, from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, led the Saturday morning Memorial Horse Procession. Quaemps and a friend made the three day ride over the hill from Pendleton. Quaemps said of the seven year old quarter horse and a six year old “wild horse off the hill,” “They both are tough as nails to make the ride over here”. The five horses in memorial procession circled three times — one circle to honor those from the past, one for those in the present, and one for the future.
Dance performances kicked off with the grand entry. Flag bearers led the procession carrying the Eagle Staff, American Flag, and the Canadian flag. Saturday’s dance performances included the circle dance, men & boys traditional, women and girls traditional, men’s fast and fancy, grass dance and women’s jingle dress.
Jesse Bevis Sr. of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla has been coming to Tamkaliks for years; he remembers performing in the junior category when he was nine or ten years old. Bevis has passed the tradition on to his own family who were in attendance this year. He and his wife Nukinka Manuel have two children. Daughter Alayna Bevis, 14, competes in the Women’s Fancy Shawl. When asked about her favorite part of celebration, she couldn’t decide on one set thing and stated that everything was her favorite. Son Jesse Bevis Jr., 5, was also performing this year and he said his favorite part was dancing in the Tiny Tots division, where he danced “prairie chicken” style. Bevis said Tamkaliks is very special to his family; he looks forward to catching up with friends and family who come to visit not only from Pendleton but from other places like Lapwai and the Yakima valley as well.
The friendship potluck held Sunday served venison, elk and salmon to hungry natives, locals and visitors. Volunteers and committee members served over 480 people at this year’s feast.