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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Probably the most spectacular thing you’ve ever seen’: Expo ‘74 anniversary celebration powwow starts Saturday at the Spokane Convention Center

Downtown Spokane will be more colorful than usual this weekend as thousands gather to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo ’74 with a powwow at the falls.

Bobbie White, powwow chair, said the event likely will be the largest multitribe powwow in Spokane in recent years. The event, held at the Spokane Convention Center, was planned by a committee of members from different area tribes.

Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for participants to arrive and register if they would like to compete in one of more than a dozen competitions. At noon, people will begin lining up for the first grand entry, White said.

“That’s typically where we have our flags,” White said.

Following the presentation of flags, powwow royalty will arrive representing different tribes, followed by the dancers. After the grand entry, the drum competition will start, followed by all participants and spectators. Then, dance competitions will begin starting with the youngest age groups, White said.

After a 5 p.m. dinner break, another grand entry is planned for 6 , followed by the war bonnet special held by Dave Brown Eagle.

“It will probably be the most spectacular thing you’ve ever seen,” White said.

After the war bonnet special, the adult competition categories will start, White said. On Sunday, there will also be grand entries at noon and 6 p.m., followed by competitions.

The broader Spokane community is welcome to attend the free powwow, White said. Programs will be available for $10, which will include information about traditional regalia and powwow etiquette.

“It’s a good informational program that people can use even in schools,” White said.

Head dancers give back

Being selected as a head dancer is a big honor, White said. Head dancers are seen as role models in their community and use their selection as a chance to give back to those around them.

The selection of Melody “Sissy” Waskahat, 10, was affirming for her mother, Empero Corral. Waskahat’s Indian name is Okesikohskwe: Woman Lives in the Sky, or Sky Woman.

“It means a great deal not only to me but to my entire family as well. It is a wonderful opportunity and a very high honor in the powwow world,” Corral said. “As her mom, it tells me she has been doing a spectacular job demonstrating what a good girl she is, and the committee sees that and wanted her as representation of their celebration.”

Sissy has been preparing not only physically but mentally, feeling the pressure of the role.

“She doesn’t want to disappoint her family, her community and most importantly herself,” Corral said.

There is also a lot of financial preparation, with new regalia and collecting money needed for the prize payouts, elders’ feed and giveaways. Each head dancer hosts a competition. Sissy is hosting an old-style junior girls jingle dress special. She held a bake sale to gather donations, baking everything herself and raising $450.

“On behalf of my family and myself, we want to express our deep appreciation for everyone who helped our daughter reach her goal,” Corral said. “It has been hard work preparing for this weekend, and many helping hands were involved. I want to express how thankful we are that Sissy has such a solid foundation of support from her family, friends, community and tribe.”

With the preparation done, Sissy’s family is growing more excited to see her leadership on full display.

“We are looking forward to watching her express herself on the dance floor,” Corral said. “We are looking forward to seeing all her hard work come together, and above all support Sissy as she gives back to the circle, the people, as a token of appreciation for the great honor she had received.”

The other head dancers are Alec Bluff, of the Kalispel Tribe; Janessa Porter, of the Kootenai/Dine’ Tribe; and Chimoqkeen “Moq” Abrahamson, of the Spokane Tribe.