Tribe to host Veteran's Summit in July
It will be difficult not to run into a veteran in Grand Ronde this July.
The Marcellus Northwest Memorial Veterans Powwow will be held Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, at Uyxat Powwow Grounds off Hebo Road.
And three days before that - Tuesday, July 9, through Friday, July 12 - the Tribe will host a four-day "Veteran's Summit: A Gathering of Warriors" being put on by the Gresham-based Native Wellness Institute.
The free summit will bring anywhere from 500 to 1,000 veterans to Grand Ronde's Tribal powwow grounds for informational workshops, motivational keynote speakers, benefits coordination, a parade of color guards, a welcome home ceremony, traditional games, health care, talking circles, counseling and more.
"Our Native veterans are too often a forgotten population," said Charles Tail Feathers, a Native Wellness Institute board member and visionary of the gathering. "Some of our warriors from prior wars and conflicts still have unmet needs. The purpose of the Veteran's Summit is to honor them, provide direct services and sources, help them on their healing journey and provide a good time filled with food, laughter, culture and positive camaraderie."
Tribal Chair Reyn Leno, a Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran, attended one of the first planning meetings for the summit in San Diego in late November. After returning and talking with the rest of Tribal Council, he pledged the Grand Ronde Tribe's support as host.
Many of the Tribe's programs are involved in the planning process to host the Veteran's Summit. A meeting held Jan. 17 included staff and committee members, as well as volunteer Tribal veterans and Tribal Council members.
Veterans, their family members and those who serve veterans are invited to attend the summit. Meals will be provided along with limited travel scholarships and camping.
Tail Feathers said he envisions a village where veterans will camp and eat together, get free health care and haircuts, receive assistance with coordinating benefits, play traditional games, listen to traditional stories, participate in singing and dancing, participate in a parade of color guards, attend workshops and participate in activities to promote their personal healing.
"Healing is the spirit driving the Veteran's Summit," Tail Feathers said.
Although the Grand Ronde Tribe is hosting the event, the Native Wellness Institute is organizing it. The institute is accepting financial and other sponsorships for the gathering.
Anyone who would like to host a veteran or sponsor a meal, speaker or any other part of the gathering should contact William Penn, Native Wellness Institute Veterans Warrior's Gathering Coordinator, at 360-490-7463.