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Clearwater Valley News: Chief Lookingglass Powwow impressive

This young lady was among the “Fancy and Jingles” contest dancers Saturday night, Aug. 19, at the Chief Lookingglass Powwow in Kamiah.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
This young lady was among the “Fancy and Jingles” contest dancers Saturday night, Aug. 19, at the Chief Lookingglass Powwow in Kamiah.


Norma Staaf 208-993-0689

— I went to my first Chief Lookingglass Powwow last Friday in Kamiah. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at the “Powwow grounds” on Friday night, next to the Wa-a’Yas community center. People gathered in a large circle, sitting on lawn chairs or bleachers with a great view of the surrounding hills. The Grand Entry began with large drums setting the beat, then two young men carrying the United States Flag and the Nez Perce flag followed by an array of dancers of all ages, most wearing traditional regalia. This ceremonial clothing included feathers and furs from a variety of animals. Thankfully I was sitting next to a wildlife biologist who helped me identify eagle, owl and flicker feathers as well as eagle claws, plus otter, wolverine, mink and ermine and porcupine quills as part of various clothing. The pattern of feathers on the backs of some of the dancers and the way they moved it seemed as they moved faster they might take flight. A young girl, a toddler, just learning to walk, sat near us and seemed mesmerized by it all and got swept up in the dance.

One of the Nez Perce Elders gave a blessing in both Nimiipuu and English. It was great to hear the sound of the Nimiipuu language. The drumming and singing rotated around the circle to different musical groups (Nimipuu Trail, Kicking Woman, Salmon Tail and Red Sand). Many of the early dances were inter-tribal (which meant anyone could dance) and some were specific types of dances. The dancing started as a measured walk around the circle, as darkness approached, the pace and intensity quickened with overhead lights strung on wires, lighting the dance circle. Although I have heard Nez Perce drumming on KIYE, being near the large drums, I felt it through my whole body in a hypnotic way. There was much I didn’t understand, but great to have a chance to learn about the local custom and culture.

The next big event in Kamiah is Barbecue Days, coming up Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-3. The main event is a free barbecue dinner on Saturday night, with many other sporting and arts events throughout the weekend. The theme is “Kamiah, Idaho… a great place to live, work and play”. To see a complete listing of events check out I noticed in last week’s Free Press that the Kamiah Chamber of Commerce received a well-deserved $47,750 Idaho Travel Council Grant. The Chamber members work hard to bring a number of events to Kamiah that are both fun for locals and interesting enough to draw visitors.

In other Kamiah news, chamber of commerce member, Dawn Marie Johnson, owner of the Log Yard restaurant, told me they are now staying open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. She’s hoping people will stop by after work for a beer, glass of wine and a snack and enjoy their nice little outdoor patio, screened from the road. Another chamber member, Brian Brokop, appears poised to open the Clearwater Brewing Company in Kamiah. A new sign shaped like a beer bottle top is hanging at 212 Fir Street and from what I could tell by looking through the windows, the tap room appears ready, apparently just waiting for the liquor license.


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