Contest Powwow continues seeing increased participation

08.20.2019 Danielle Frost Culture, Events
Tribal member Ty George participates in the Saturday afternoon Grand Entry on the second day of the 2019 Grand Ronde Contest Powwow held at uyxat Powwow Grounds on Saturday, Aug. 17. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

Maybe it was the increase in the drum contest prize monies, the mild weather or the Grand Ronde Tribe’s reputation for being good hosts, but the 2019 Contest Powwow was the biggest one in years.

The powwow attracted 392 registered dancers during the weekend of Friday, Aug. 16, through Sunday, Aug. 18, to uyxat Powwow Grounds off Hebo Road, an increase of 55 from 2018 and 103 from 2017. This included 34 Grand Ronde Tribal member dancers.

Powwow Special Event Board Chair Dana Ainam said that there was an increase in contest drum groups, which usually translates into more dancers. Add that to an increase in competition dance specials and the result was a steady uptick of registered dancers who competed in the 28 categories. Dancers ranged in age from 6 to older than 65.

“This is just great,” Ainam said. “It’s such a fun time to see people and always exciting when they come back year after year. To be able to coordinate all of this well feels rewarding.”

Friday evening’s 7 p.m. Grand Entry took more than 30 minutes to complete as dancers completely filled the Powwow Grounds Arbor.

Three Grand Ronde dancers won a total of $850 in prizes, led by Leah Villa who took second place in the Junior Adult Womens Traditional and Nacoma Liebelt who took second place in the Junior Boys Traditional categories. Matisse Sohappy was awarded fourth place in the Junior Girls Jingle. Overall, more than $52,000 was awarded in the dance categories.


Royalty Pageant

Contest Powwow activities began at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16, with the Royalty Pageant held at the Governance Center Atrium.

Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George was the master of ceremonies and Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy gave the invocation.

This year’s Royalty Pageant judges were Tribal Elder Jackie Many Hides, Tribal member Leah Villa and Tammy Fisher.

Little Miss Grand Ronde contestants were Aubrey Campbell, Kalea Liebelt, Marie Quenelle, Taylor Ruggles and Sophia Grout.

Senior Miss Grand Ronde had two contestants, reigning Queen Isabelle Grout and Iyana Holmes. Junior Miss Grand Ronde Kaleigha Simi was unopposed. Tiny Tot, an honorary position, had two participants -- Grace Macon and Leloo Quenelle.

Iyana Holmes reacts after it was announced that she was the 2019-20 Senior Miss Grand Ronde on the first day of the 2019 Grand Ronde Contest Powwow held at uyxat Powwow Grounds on Friday, Aug. 16. Outgoing 2018-19 Senior Miss Grand Ronde Isabelle Grout looks on. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

That evening, Iyana Holmes was crowned Senior Miss Grand Ronde, Kaleigha Simi was crowned Junior Miss Grand Ronde and Sophia Grout was crowned Little Miss Grand Ronde at uyxat Powwow Grounds’ Arbor after outgoing Royalty for 2018-19 gave speeches and held giveaways in appreciation for those who had helped them during the past year. Outgoing Royalty were Senior Miss Grand Ronde Isabelle Grout, Junior Miss Grand Ronde Kaleigha Simi and Little Miss Grand Ronde Sophia Grout, and Tiny Tots Jameson Turner, Aubrey Campbell, Grace Macon and Kalea Liebelt.

Outgoing Royalty members and their families did one last walk around the arbor while host drum Indian Hill performed an honor song. Incoming Royalty did the same following the coronation.

Friday Grand Entry

Powwow began with the various contest drum groups – Indian Hill, Blackstone, Stronghold, Black Lodge, Young Boys, The Cree, Bad Soul, Young Bear and Buckshot – each taking turns to play before Grand Entry. Drummers were competing for a combined $30,000 in prize money.

Blackstone was awarded $10,000; The Cree, $8,000; Young Bear, $6,000, Stronghold, $4,000; and Black Lodge, $2,000.

Friday’s Grand Entry was led by Tribal Elder Alton Butler and Wayne Chulik (Tlingit) carrying in eagle staffs.

As Indian Hill pounded out an honor song, Grand Ronde Honor Guard members and Tribal Elders Raymond Petite and Butler, Tribal spouse Richard Vanatta, Tribal spouse Anthony Texeira and Al Miller posted the colors. They were followed by other veterans, including past Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno and past Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi. Next came Tribal Council members, Tribal Royalty from various Tribes and Contest Powwow contestants. It took more than 30 minutes for everyone to fill the arbor.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, Vice Chair Chris Mercier, Secretary Jon A. George and Tribal Council members Denise Harvey, Jack Giffen Jr., Kathleen George, Michael Langley and Lisa Leno attended Friday’s Grand Entry.

Jon George offered the invocation and Kennedy welcomed attendees who packed the bleachers and filled all of the chairs set up around the arbor, which meant standing room only for later arrivals.

“I’m thankful all of you are able to come here and celebrate with us,” she said. “I want to thank you for being a blessing.”

Kennedy also encouraged attendees to make use of the many recycling containers that were set up throughout the powwow grounds.

“The water is sacred and it is here for us to drink,” Kennedy said. “It gives us life. Do what you can to clean up and recycle. We were the caretakers of this land before and we need to do it again.”

Grand Entry closed with Royalty members of various Tribes introducing themselves and shaking hands with other Royalty members. Then, it was interTribal time, where dancers of all ages and styles came together in the arbor.

Afterward, competitions for Tiny Tots, Junior Girls, Junior Boys, Outgoing Royalty/Teen Girls Special, Teen Girls Contest, Teen Boys Contest, Golden Age Women and Men, and Junior and Senior Adult Mens, and Junior and Senior Adult Womens exhibitions were held.


Saturday Grand Entry

Saturday afternoon’s Grand Entry attendance also filled the arbor stands to capacity, as well as rows of extra chairs and bleachers that had been set up.

Following the previous evening’s protocol, the Grand Ronde Honor Guard posted the colors. They were followed by veterans, Tribal Council members, Royalty from various Tribes and contest dancers.

Grand Entry took approximately 20 minutes to complete. Dancers frequently waved to friends and family, and some attendees used their phone’s video chat function to live stream the action for those unable to attend.

Tribal Cultural Advisor Bobby Mercier led the invocation in Chinuk Wawa and then Indian Hill performed a victory song to honor veterans.

Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier welcomed Saturday contestants and attendees.

“I thought last night’s Grand Entry was awesome, but looking around and seeing all of this today, I am at a loss for words,” he said. “We want you to have the time of your lives. We’re trying to be good stewards of our land so if you can, please recycle.

In addition to Mercier, Tribal Council members Jack Giffen Jr., Jon A. George, Kathleen George, Michael Langley, Denise Harvey and Lisa Leno participated in Saturday’s Grand Entry. Kennedy was overseeing a beadwork booth and Steve Bobb Sr. was unable to attend.

Tribal member Nacoma Liebelt competes in the Boys Traditional division on the second day of the 2019 Grand Ronde Contest Powwow held at uyxat Powwow Grounds on Saturday, Aug. 17. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

During Grand Entry, veterans also were acknowledged and introduced themselves.

After interTribal dances were held, the contest portion of the powwow was in full swing. First up were the Tiny Tots, followed by Senior Golden Age Women, Senior Golden Age Men, Junior Golden Age Women and Junior Golden Age Men. Also held were the Junior Girls Finals in Traditional, Jingle and Fancy, followed by Junior Boys, Teen Girls and Teens Boys finals, all in the same categories.

Newly crowned Senior Miss Grand Ronde Iyana Holmes competed in the Junior Girls Jingle category.

“I hope to do well,” she said. “I have been coming to powwow my whole life. It’s a part of me. I just love it here.”

Denelle Stanley of Seattle (Ute/Navajo/Shawnee Creek) has competed at Grand Ronde’s powwow twice before in the Womens Fancy category.

“I like the challenge,” she said. “You really have to keep in shape and have your stamina up in order to remain competitive.”

This year, she was joined by her 6-year-old son Dravus Coin, who was competing for the first time.

“He is pretty excited about it,” she said.

New this year were cultural demonstrations by Tribal member Brian Krehbiel as a part of the Indigenous Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) initiative to strengthen families through culturally focused and traditional parenting support activities. Surveys and other information were available to families as well.

Next to Krehbiel was a small canoe he built and sailed during this year’s Paddle to Lummi Canoe Journey. It proved to be a hit with younger Tribal members, who kept climbing in and out.

“I’m trying to engage families and see what they want, that’s why I brought all of my goodies,” he said, pointing to a blanket filled with Native baskets, carvings, pine nuts and more. “Anything that people want to learn about, I want to help them.”

Also new to powwow was a booth sponsored by Western Oregon University, the first ever higher education institution invited to a Grand Ronde Contest Powwow.

All Native American students who applied during the powwow had the $60 application fee waived and also are eligible for a $2,000 scholarship if they ultimately enroll in fall 2019 or fall 2020.

Representatives from several departments, including admissions, financial aid and academic advising were onsite to answer any questions parents or potential students might have about navigating the sometimes complex world of the college admissions process.

As of Saturday afternoon, 13 students had applied for admission.

“It’s great we can offer these resources onsite,” said Admissions Counselor Itsel Venegas-Trujillo. “We want students to know we are here and available to help. We understand their circumstances and come from similar backgrounds.”

Tribal Education Committee Chair Tammy Cook said she was “elated” to have Western Oregon representatives at powwow.

“We hope this opportunity will help those who attend the event and inspire greater collaboration between Tribes and local colleges to make not only their presence felt in Tribal communities. By working together, we can erase some of the invisibility associated with indigenous peoples in higher education.”

Powwow attendees had plenty of food and beverage choices to keep them going, including Indian tacos, yakisoba noodles, fry bread, Mexican food, fresh fruit cups, curly fries, smoothies, espresso, hot dogs, barbecue ribs and tropical ice.

Other vendors sold jewelry, purses, backpacks, hats, garden art, shirts with novel sayings, Native-themed athletic attire, regalia, suitcases, boots, carvings and jerky.

Jackie Dillman (Yakama) of Shawl Lady Crafts has been coming to powwow to sell shawls and regalia for 15 years.

“I have family up here and it is so pretty,” she said. “I spend all year making things to be sure I have stock available for powwows.”

Contest Powwow staff included master of ceremonies Tyson Eaglevoice Shay (Shoshone-Bannock), arena director Fred Ike Jr. (Yakama), head dance judge Charles Tailfeathers (Cree/Blackfeet) and head drum judge Chase Sayer from Saskatchewan, Canada.

Specials included the Women’s All-Around sponsored by the Native Wellness Institute, Crystal Starr and the Tailfeather family with prize money totaling $5,600, plus jackets for first- through third-place; Men’s Northern Traditional and Round Bustle sponsored by the Tom family with $2,000 in prize money; School is Cool for all kindergarten through 12th-grade dancers sponsored by the Education Committee; Best Friends sponsored by Grand Ronde Royalty; Round Bustle/Chicken Dance with $800 in prize money; Women’s Red Dress Special with $800 in prize money; and Junior and Teen Girls sponsored by outgoing Grand Ronde Royalty.

Audio Visual Network Technician Wendell Olson and Senior Help Desk Technician Mark Donahoo were on hand throughout the event to ensure the sound system worked properly during the four grand entries.

Saturday’s activities also featured the annual Powwow Parade at 8 a.m. that began at Fort Yamhill State Park and ended at uyxat Powwow Grounds. Newly crowned Grand Ronde Royalty and Veterans Royalty waved to crowds from festively decorated vehicles.

A somber moment came when the Women’s Red Dress Special was held Saturday evening, which honored missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Women from age 18 to Elders participated. The family of missing Tribal member Heather Cameron Haller sponsored prize money for the dance and the color red represents the missing and murdered.

Elder and past Tribal Council Chairwoman Kathryn Harrison, Elder and past Tribal Council member Candy Robertson, Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy and Tribal Elder Carol Gleason served as judges for the dance special.


Red Roses' Dominik Briant, center, gets to the basket past Wasted Potential's Conrad Farmer, left, and Nick Colton during the Native Youth 3 on 3 basketball tournament high school championship game held at uyxat Powwow Grounds on Saturday, Aug. 17. Wasted Potential won the championship. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

3-on-3 basketball tournament

The Contest Powwow included the Recreation Department’s 3-on-3 Native Youth Basketball Tournament, returning for the second year in a row.

There were four teams in each bracket for middle school and high school teams. Approximately 75 friends, family and coaches attended.

“In the middle school bracket the championship game came down to the wire,” Recreation Coordinator Leo Ayala said. “It was competitive games between Little Caesars (The Dalles) against Grand Ronde’s WDL.”

Little Caesars clinched the win 35-32 in overtime. The players were Henry Begay, Andre Niko, Skytus Smith and Trevor Lewis.

“In the high school bracket, we had some competitive games as well,” Ayala said. “The championship game came down to two local Grand Ronde teams: Wasted Potential vs. Red Roses.”

Wasted Potential came out with the victory by a very slim margin, 29-28. The players were Nick Colton, Austin Watkins, Conrad Farmer and Keyondre Kelley.

First-place teams received championship hoodies and $50 Visa gift cards. Second-place teams received tournament runner-up shirts with $25 Visa gift cards.

Freddy Ayala won the three-point contest, making 12 of his 15 shots for a $30 Nike gift card.

The Contest Powwow continued with grand entries at 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.


2019 Grand Ronde Contest Powwow winners

Girls Jingle: Dinaye Sayer, Dine/Cree, first; Davianne Madera, Colville, second; Kaylie Tailfeathers, Blackfeet/Navajo, third; Matisse Sohappy, Grand Ronde/Yakama, fourth; and Maria Sanchez, Bad River Chippewa, fifth.

Girls Fancy: Shandiin Shebala, Blackfeet/Navajo, first; Claudia Suarez, Pit River, second; Cree Sayer, Dine/Cree, third; Keira Onepennee, Washington, fourth; and Sandrea Paskemin, Cree, fifth.

Girls Traditional: Makli BrownEagle, Spokane Flathead, first; Askewin Tom, Warm Springs, second; Candace Whiteplume, Nez Perce/Warm Springs, third; Athena Reed, Yakama, fourth; and Zids Arrow-White, Shoshone, fifth.

Boys Grass: Luka Montgomery Gomez, Washoe/Chukchansi, first; E.J. Denny, Warm Springs, second; Sisnce BrownEagle, Kalispell, third; Ivy Brien, Puyallup/Crow, fourth; and Waylon Harmon, Eastern Shoshone, fifth.

Boys Fancy: Travis Brien, Puyullap/Crow, first; Apollo Jonhson, Wasco/Paiute, second; Mykael Sam, Warm Springs, third; Conan Foltz, Yakama, fourth; and Joe Petty-Jarrell, Penderelle Salish, fifth.

Boys Traditional: Nabahe Shebala, Blackfeet/Navajo, first; Nacoma Liebelt, Grand Ronde/Klamath, second; Dravus Coin, Ute/Navajo/Shawnee/Hopi, third; Arthur Miller Jr., Warm Springs, fourth; and Hawk Squetimkin, Colville, fifth.

Teen Girls Jingle: Elise Phillips, Omaha/Shoshone/Navajo, first; Analynn Olney, Yakama, second; Whisper LittleOwl, Aaniiih, third; Laurelle Paskemin, Cree, fourth; and Zizi Scabbyrobe, Blackfeet, fifth.

Teen Girls Fancy: Macyquinn Johnson, Warm Springs, first; Kee’ala Walsey, Dine/Warm Springs, second; Keenas Limon, Madesi Band Pit River, third; Carissa Jackson, Klamath/Modoc, fourth; and Tymseila Washburn, Chehalis, fifth.

Teen Girls Traditional: Jovena Scabbyrobe, Yakama, first; Jordan Heemsah, Yakama, second; Tia Butler, Siletz/Yurok/Northern Cheyenne, third; Kaylee Johnson, Paiute/Haida, fourth; and Amelia Andy, Yakama, fifth.

Teen Boys Grass: Devin BrownEagle, Spokane, first; Garen Growing Thunder, Nez Perce/Nakoda, second; Josiah Barney, Navajo, third; Sabine BrownEagle, Spokane, fourth; and Nikolai Moccasin, Ministikwan Cree Nation, fifth;

Teen Boys Fancy: Keaven Brown, Dine/Diegueno, first; Daven Madera, Colville, second; Sunhawk Barney, Navajo, third; Iitnakapi Scabbyrobe, Yakama, fourth; and Colby White Jr., Kalispell, fifth.

Teen Boys Traditional: Dion Crazybull, Standing Rock Sioux, first; Hershel William, Nez Perce, second; Leland Whiteplume, Arapaho/Cheyenne/Nez Perce, third; Jayden Esquiro, Warm Springs, fourth; and River Buck, Wanapum/Yakama, fifth.

Junior Womens Jingle: Celeste McGurk, Navajo, first; Antonetta Prairiebear, Spokane, second; Ontaria Arrow-White, Shoshone, third; Noralene Scalplock, Siksika/Navajo, fourth; and Nanabah Kadenehi, Dine, fifth.

Junior Womens Fancy: Denelle Stanley, Ute/Navajo/Shawnee Creek, first; Valerie Adrian, Coeur d’Alene, second; Tessia First Rider, Siksika Nation, third; Darci Haywahe, Fort Peck Assiniboine, fourth; and Autumn Sky, Warm Springs, fifth.

Junior Womens Traditional: Julianne Scabbyrobe, Blackfeet/Yakama, first; Leah Villa, Grand Ronde, second; Verlina Whiteman, Blackfeet/Blackfoot, third; Jishon Reed, Yakama, fourth; and Destiny Buck, Wanapum/Yakama, fifth.

Junior Mens Grass: Kelsey Haywahe, Wasco/Assiniboine, first; Morris Crookedneck, Plains Cree, second; Manny Hawley, Chippewa Cree, third; Dakota Madera, Colville, fourth; and Gary M. Villa, Warm Springs, fifth.

Junior Mens Fancy: Daniel Scholfield, Potawatomi, first; Gary Olney, Yakama, second; Quanah Henry, Navajo, third; Jared Jackson, Klamath/Modoc, fourth; and Davey Madera, Blackfeet/Colville, fifth.

Junior Mens Traditional: Teminah Greene, Nez Perce, first; Hahots Shebala, Nez Perce, second; Theron Olney, Yakama/Dine, third; Saul Jurado, Siletz/Tolowa, fourth; and Tommy Lee Whiteplume, Nez Perce, fifth.

Senior Womens Jingle: Paula Shebala, Blackfeet, first; Brisa Paskimin, Nahua/Mexika, second; Alyssa Buck, Wibwe/Odawa, third; Henrietta McGurk, Navajo/Apache, fourth; and Candice Chief Scabbyrobe, Cree, fifth.

Senior Womens Fancy: Laverna Benally, Navajo, first; Roseanne Greene, Nez Perce/Salish, second; Shawna Tom, Shoshone/Dine, third; Sherri ThunderHawk, Lakota, fourth; and Michelle Kipp, Shoshone Bannock, fifth.

Senior Womens Traditional: Lena Tewawina, Salish/Blackfeet, first; Violet Olney, Yakama, second; Leah McGurk, Dine/Mescalero, third; Davonica BrownEagle, Spokane, fourth; and Joset Melting Tallow, Siksika, fifth.

Senior Mens Grass: Ron Kicking Women Sr., Blackfeet, first; Darrell Paskimin, Plains Cree, second; Theodore Olney, Yakama, third; Walden Tewawina, Hopi/Apache, fourth; and David T. Madera, Colville, fifth.

Senior Mens Fancy: Perry Thompson, Navajo, first; Jerrold Benally, Navajo, second; Larry Buck, Wanapum Yakama, third; and Plummie Wright, Klamath, fourth.

Senior Mens Traditional: Wendall Powless, Dakota/Ojibwe, first; Sheldon Shebala, Navajo, second; Brando Jack, Dine, third; Justus Creek Sr., Cree, fourth; and Ian Gallagher, Klatmath/Modoc, fifth.

Junior Golden Age Womens: Shirley Hill, Siksika, first; Wilma Buck, Yakama, second; Audrey Olney, Yakama, third; Sandra Plentywounds, Shoshone, fourth; and Arkena Thompson, Dine, fifth.

Junior Golden Age Mens: Luke Whiteman, Blackfeet/Blood, first; Peter Jo Olney, Yakama, second; Terry Heemsah Sr., Yakama, third; Fred Hill Sr., Umatilla, fourth; and Lonnie Sammaripo Sr., Paiute/Colville, fifth.

Senior Golden Age Womens: Wilma Wahsise, Yakama, first; Janet George, Yakama, second; Pearl Sammaripo, Colville, third; Ruth Jim, Yakama, fourth; and Sophie George Hunt, Yakama, fifth.

Senior Golden Age Mens: Allenroy Pay-Kwin, Jicarilla Apache, first; Stan Greene, Niimiipuu/Salish, second; Dave BrownEagle, Spokane/Ho-Chunk, third; Gary Greene, Niimiipuu (Nez Perce), fourth; and Gary L. Villa Sr., Yakama, fifth.

Drums: Blackstone, first; The Cree, second; Young Bear, third; Stronghold, fourth; and Black Lodge, fifth.