2011 Veterans Powwow is all about honoring Marcellus Norwest

07.14.2011 Dean Rhodes People, Events

Smoke Signals staff writer

On the evening of Friday, July 8, Sharon Norwest and her family marked the first Marcellus Norwest Memorial Veterans Powwow with a giveaway to more than 100 friends and neighbors.

The Veterans Powwow was renamed this year to honor the Tribal Elder and Army veteran who walked on on May 22.

Marce led the effort to start both the Veterans Powwow, held in recent years at Uyxat Powwow Grounds, and the Veterans Memorial that sits on the Tribal campus.

Parts of Marce's regalia and other items were given to those who wanted something personal of Marce's, but Tribal member T.J. Grefsrud, who is married to Norwest's granddaughter Nikki, was gifted an entire set of Marce's regalia.

Nikki was the first Veterans Royalty Princess at the first Veterans Powwow.

After receiving the regalia, Grefsrud held his own coming out giveaway for people who have helped him along the way.

"The Vietnam War," said Sharon, "the pride that they've been able to get back by attending these powwows, it's been a real honor to do that all these years."

Marce's two sisters - Tribal Elders Marilee Norwest-Davis and Marcella Norwest Selwyn - sat front and center in the Elders section on east side of the tent.

"We're really thankful," said Marilee. "When they told me about (giving Marce's name to the powwow), I couldn't get over it. It is neat."

"A lot of tears to my eyes," said Marcella. "I'm so proud. I never thought that anything would be named for anyone in the family. I'm proud of Sharon, too. I just wish Marce was here to see this, but I know that he does. I just knew when we were out there dancing, he was there dancing with us."

"We're thankful for what he stood for and for the time and effort he put into making this powwow what it is today," said Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy in her invocation.

"Marce set the example of how to treat our veterans," said Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno.

Some 200 veterans came through in Saturday afternoon's grand entry, and each received a Marcellus Norwest Memorial Powwow cap.

Two dance specials were held Saturday afternoon. Jonny Warren (Siletz) won the War Dance Special and Grand Ronde Tribal member Nakoosa Moreland won the Jingle Dress Special. Moreland also is Grand Ronde Royalty Queen this year.

In addition, Harmony Paul (Nez Perce) won a hand drum contest.

On Sunday, Deitz and Rose Peters, the powwow's Head Man and Woman, sponsored a Change Up Special, where men and women switched regalia. Everybody was a winner there.

New to the powwow this year was the Avenue of Flags, a three-year project led by Tribal Elder Violet Folden. Supporters had been lobbying for flags everywhere until Folden brought Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno and Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. over to the cemetery where the few flags they had were lined up.

As a result, Tribal Council stepped up and ordered 60 flags and poles. They were on display all weekend.

Veterans also can buy the right to put their names and years of service on the flag poles so that every Memorial Day and Veterans Powwow, the flags will come out with elk hide feathers and the names clearly marked. Applications are in Smoke Signals.

Among the vendors on hand over the weekend, the Yamhill County Veterans Services Office as well as state and federal counterparts were in attendance.

The biggest news for veterans, said Veterans' Services Officer Debbie Gill, are three added "presumptive conditions" that open the door to benefits for Agent Orange exposure. Those conditions are hairy cell leukemia, ischemic heart conditions and Parkinson's disease.

And, says Gill, vets who have been "stop-lossed" (kept in service longer than their contracts called for) have to apply for the extra benefits due them. Call Gill at 503-434-7503 for information.

In addition, veterans now have Internet access to their benefits and records through a Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Web site. (Call 1-800-983-0937 for information.)

Off in another direction among the vendors was the Peace and Dignity Journeys. This group has sponsored spiritual runs every four years since 1992.

Runners start in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, on the south side and Alaska on the north side. The seven-month run will bring them together at a still unnamed site in Central America. The run starts in the spring 2012, and locals are encouraged to join as it comes through their neighborhood.

Peace and Dignity Journeys were inspired by an ancient prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor coming together, represented by sacred staffs, according to the group's brochure. "This joining represents the unification of Indigenous people from the North and South after centuries of colonization."

The 2012 run is dedicated to the water that is being contaminated worldwide. Contact Tribal Elder Carol Logan (541-921-0388) for information.

With ceremonial bear and elk donated by the Natural Resources Division, Mek Mek Haws provided for more than 300 diners on Saturday night. Turning that bear and elk into chili, however, came from volunteers at the Grand Ronde Saddle Club, who also served the meals, said Christian Tinney (Lower Eastern Cherokee), who is chair of the Veterans Powwow Committee and coordinator of the event. Mek Mek Haws also provided breakfast on Sunday morning.

The event was recorded for the first time in high definition and digital sound.

Honor Guard for the event included Tribal Elder Gene LaBonte, Norris Merrill, Alen Lemons (NIVA), Tinney (Lower Eastern Cherokee), Al Miller, Grefsrud and Wayne Chulik (Tlinget).

Drums for the powwow were Little River, Bull & Bears, 4-Directions, Signal Butte, Woodsmen, Eagle Warrior, Autumn Creek, Johonaaii, Turquoise Pride, Wolf Creed Singers and Ani Ni Gi.

Royalty included Madison Aaron, Grand Ronde Princess; Iyana Holmes, Little Miss Grand Ronde; Makenzie Aaron, Junior Miss Grand Ronde; Leslie Lundy, Miss Siletz; Elizabeth Watson-Croy, Grand Ronde Princess; Amelia Mooney, Grand Ronde Princess; Amaryssa Mooney, Grand Ronde Princess; Nakoosa Moreland, Senior Miss Grand Ronde; and Kallie Provost, Senior Veterans' Queen, and Isabelle Grout, Junior Veterans' Queen.

Tony Whitehead was whip man and Nick Sixkiller, with his genial wit, served again as master of ceremonies.

 "There will be a cage fight for Elders," Sixkiller said on Friday night.

And Sunday afternoon, Sixkiller was still at it, welcoming Tribal Elder and veteran Gene LaBonte as the Tribe's last remaining Civil War vet.