Sunday, July 10, 2011

Arlee Powwow

Photo by Flickr user BigSkyKatie

I’ve been a little too busy to keep up on posting my stories as they are published but will list them in an accompanying blog post.

The internship keeps going fantastic and I’ve learned so much in a little over a month. I’m working on several stories at the moment including stuff for a few longer feature pieces. It’s hard to believe I only have three weeks left but I’m going to learn as much as I can in the time left.

I spent the Fourth of July up in Arlee Montana for their big yearly powwow celebration. The powwow has been a Fourth of July tradition since the late 1800s and the story of its beginning is quite interesting.

During the last part of the 19th century, federal Indian agents were banning any celebration of traditional Indian culture because they wanted native peoples to integrate fully into white society. Traditional Indian celebrations were considered a barrier to these assimilation efforts.

The natives got creative and told the federal reservation agents they weren’t having a powwow but instead were holding a celebration recognizing America’s independence. This satisfied agents because they thought the native peoples were being patriotic and not reverting back to their traditional ways. I love the ingenuity of how they we able to keep their culture alive and fool the agents at the same time.

This was the first powwow I’ve ever been to and it was quite interesting. The dancing was phenomenal and the age of dancers ranged from three-year-olds to older gentleman in their late 80s. I liked it all but the little kids dancing was my favorite part. These young kids are so vital because they will be the next generation to keep these traditions alive.

I had a fresh foot-long corn dog for lunch and a fresh squeezed lemonade but I couldn’t leave without having some fry bread. Definitely not health food but hey it tasted so darn good! It was a great way to spend the Fourth and I ended the night by going to the fireworks here in Missoula with Theresa and Dustin. The fireworks were fantastic as usual and it rounded out a great day.


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