July kicks off with pair of veterans' events

06.28.2018 Dean Rhodes Culture, Events

One day after the Fourth of July, four days of activities in Grand Ronde will seek to help and honor those who displayed their patriotism by serving in the U.S. military.

The sixth annual Veterans Summit, put on by the Native Wellness Institute of Gresham, Veterans Affairs Office of Tribal Government Relations and the Grand Ronde Tribe will occupy Uyxat Powwow Grounds off Hebo Road beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 5, and resume Friday, July 6, and then segue into the annual Marcellus Norwest Memorial Veterans Powwow at 7 p.m. Friday with the first of four grand entries.

The Veterans Summit will begin under the powwow grounds arbor with the theme “Sharing Stories to Heal.”

The first general session will feature welcoming remarks by Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George and feature three speakers: Acting Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Mitch Sparks, Office of Tribal Government Relations Specialist Terry Bentley and Portland Veterans Affairs Health Care System Director Michael Fisher.

The first general session also will feature Martin Earring, special assistant in the executive office of the National Museum of the American Indian, who will speak about the museum’s oral history project.

The Friday session will start at 9 a.m. with Sarah Suniga, a clinical psychologist with the Portland Veterans Affairs Health Care System, who will discuss trauma stories and Liz Estabrooks, women veterans coordinator with the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, will return to the summit and discuss women veterans and intentional inclusion. A closing ceremony is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. in achaf-hammi, the Tribal plankhouse.

The Veterans Summit, which was first held in 2013 after former Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno, a Marine Corps veterans from the Vietnam War era, attended a planning meeting held in San Diego.

The summit’s goal is to connect veterans to the governmental services that they have earned, as well as help with employment issues and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Veterans Powwow continues throughout the weekend with grand entries at 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 7, and 1 p.m. Sunday, July 8. Veterans Royalty competition will occur at 5 p.m. Friday and a men’s traditional dance special is scheduled for Saturday night with a top prize of $300.

Nick Sixkiller will once again act as master of ceremonies for both the summit and Veterans Powwow.

Vendors interested in selling their wares or food at the Veterans Powwow should contact Molly Leno at 503-879-6790 or via e-mail at

In addition, Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center will be open during veterans weekend so that attendees can view the “Rise of the Collectors” exhibit, which features 16 Grand Ronde artifacts from the 19th century that are on loan through May 2019 from the British Museum in London.