Tribal Elder Deitz Peters saying 'aloha,' heading to Hawaii
By Danielle Frost
Deitz Peters is a familiar face to those who have dined at Spirit Mountain Casino or attended the annual Marcellus Norwest Memorial Veterans Powwow.
Peters worked at the casino for almost 20 years before retiring in 2016, and has assisted the Grand Ronde Veterans Special Events Board in roles ranging from headman to arena director to making the ribbon shirts worn by the Grand Ronde Honor Guard.
He also created a new Eagle staff when the one made by the late Marcellus Norwest was retired from use in 2017.
He moved to Grand Ronde in 1997 from Lebanon, Ore.
Now, the 57-year-old father of four is off on a new adventure: cultural instructor on the island of Kauai. Moving there will help fulfill a promise Peters made to his late wife, Rose, who passed away in 2017.
“We really loved Hawaii and were supposed to go last year, so I promised that I still would,” he said.
Peters will be staying with friends made during the couple’s travels and is looking forward to putting his cultural knowledge to use.
“I am really excited about that,” he said.
Although he is not a veteran, Peters has always felt called to help in any way he could.
“My dad was a veteran and I really enjoyed the progress of everything the Veterans Board has done so far and what it is all about,” he said. “I wanted to help keep them going in any way I could.”
When he arrives in Hawaii, Peters will continue his honoring of veterans with the first-ever Tribal ceremony at Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial on Monday, Sept. 24.
“We will use cedar and sage in the ceremony and leave an eagle feather,” Peters said. “It was through veterans I have met over the years that I heard about doing a ceremony there. … Now, our Tribe will be the first to do something over there. There were 18 Native Americans on that ship and this is for them and all those who lived in the aftermath.”
Right now, Peters is busy packing and downsizing his busy life for a simple one in Hawaii. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be there and is anticipating future adventures.
Peters will miss the seasons in Grand Ronde, his family and participating in powwows.
“I may have to come home for those,” he said.
He also will miss going to the mountains and helping fellow Tribal members learn to make regalia.
“I enjoyed teaching others to do it,” he said.
However, Peters is looking forward to the downtime Hawaii will offer him to complete two big beading projects. He’s been a beader since the age of 15.
“One is going to take a full year and is a man’s beaded outfit, so I’m taking lots of supplies with me,” Peters said. “My grandma had a beaded bag that hung on her bed and I always enjoyed it when she brought that out. The craftsmanship was amazing to me. I remember wanting to someday finish a project like that.”
Peters’ grandparents are David Andrew Leno and Emma Tom Leno, and his parents are Margaret Ruth Leno and Henry Deitrich Peters Jr.
“Most people probably won’t believe this but I was actually really quiet as a child,” he said. “In high school I was interested in swimming and band.”
At 57, Deitz is a young Elder, but has had his share of life experiences and encourages young people to take the journey that best fits them.
“Our life here is very short,” he said. “It is always important that you take the steps to stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask your Elders for something. The less we ask, the less we will know for our own journey. Show your Elders love and respect.”