The Muckleshoot Canoe Family will be in a major new Welcome to Our Native Land (WONL) Coastal Cultures Day celebration event as part of this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival. One of Muckleshoot’s canoes will be displayed near the John T. Williams Totem Pole during the day on May 24th. The WONL Group Committee who are organizing this Coastal Celebration and one day powwow collaboratively with NW Folklife, hold up “Hands of Thanks” to the Muckleshoot Tribe for actively supporting these Native community cultural and arts events in the Center of Seattle. Special thanks are extended for receiving a Muckleshoot Charitable Fund award in 2014 that lead to the establishment of the First Annual WONL Powwow.
Welcome to Our Native Land Group has been openly welcomed by Northwest Folklife staff and board directors to increase a significant Native cultural and arts presence. Both want to invite and bring in numerous Pacific Northwest Tribal peoples to share, interweave learning, and offer a place for engagement. WONL Group members hold a vision to build a core Native presence at this longtime and large festival that can grow respect of artistic forms, bridge, heal and establish new relationships, deepen cultural awareness, and offer protocol-based practices for Honoring inter-tribal peoples and celebration practices in this region. The WONL Group’s aim is to establish, promote, cultivate, and strengthen connective community inter-linkages. With this festival and central location where it happens, it opens up opportunities for “Native Communities of Culture” to engage in culturally focused art forms created through a Native-led lens.
Forming in 2013, the WONL Group Committee started working with NW Folklife production people to choose the Space Needle Green grassy area near the John T. Williams Totem Pole. Everyone felt this location offers excellent public visibility near the Monorail, Space Needle, Experience Music Project Museum, 5th Avenue and Broad Street traffic areas. Everything is free and open to everyone. A Coastal Welcoming is scheduled to begin each day. Tipis and Coastal Canoes are on the grounds. Invited demonstration artists will show carving, painting, designing, beadwork, jewelry, cradle board making, basket weaving, regalia making, and other cultural arts practices. Local cultural leaders will be a part of and facilitate Coastal Day and Powwow songs, dances, specials, honorings, and celebration activities. Elders have an area near the circle and people are welcome to stay for the day. Coastal Day has jamming, storytelling, dances, and songs. Before powwow grand entry, Native folk style music, hip hop, and youth dancers are scheduled. After Grand Entry, WONL Committee Specials, category, round, “Wanna Be” dances, and inter-tribals will invite dancers into the circle supported by invited drums. Hosts are Southern Express, Tac Town, Little Battle and Spear Fish.
Of special note is a Memorial Day Native community led Ceremony will be held on the Mural Amphitheatre Stage near the Armory. All Veterans will be honored. At the WONL Powwow Grand Entry, the Intertribal Warriors Society has been invited to carry in the flags. Veterans will be honored in the powwow circle too. Everyone and all Veterans are invited!
The Northwest Folklife Festival draws over 250,000 people annually to Seattle Center. It is held for 4 days starting at 11:00 am on Friday, May 22nd and ends at 9:00 pm on Monday, May 25, 2015. The entire area of Seattle Center is used by Folklife for outside and indoor staging locations. More than 5,000 performers and hundreds of vendors offer cultural exchange, learning scenarios, engaging activities, and exposure to numerous participants. While creating a festival place for cultural heritage and community-driven presentations, the Festival grows interactive, cultural and artistic experiences for all ages, backgrounds and interests. Following a vision “By strengthening cultural communities through arts & culture, Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest.” As Native community people work with NWFL to establish and create artistic interchange and exchange in this festival setting, it can begin to bridge, connect, build, and sustain relationships. Beneficial outcomes stand to result, especially for Native people.
Important to WONL Committee members is developing ways to engage Native youth, families, elders, artists, cultural people, tribes, and urban-based Native organizations to become part of Seattle-centered activities in different ways. It means establishing Native cultural programming done by Native community people. Now strengthened success is showing up with enthusiastic agreement by everyone involved to implement “Welcome to Our Native Land” Coastal and Powwow Celebrations every year at the Northwest Folklife Festival! Everyone is invited to come!
Article contributed by Kim Camara