About 100 veterans from across the nation attended the 10th Annual Muckleshoot Veterans Pow Wow in Auburn, Washington. The event was held on Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26.
"It always makes me happy to see the veterans (who attend the pow wow)," said Sonny Bargala, Muckleshoot Veteran Affairs specialist and co-founder of the Inter-Tribal Warrior Society. "We get a nice mix of veterans from all over.”
The Muckleshoot Veterans Pow Wow is the biggest pow wow on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation and it keeps on getting bigger every year said Wendy Lloyd, vice chair of the Pow Wow Committee.
There were over 500 contestants who participated in the pow wow.
“Everyone enjoys this pow wow and we get dancers as far away as New York and Connecticut,” said Williams. “Drum groups from Oklahoma and just everywhere.”
The Inter-Tribal Warrior Society started the veterans pow wow 10 years ago. The society is an American Indian-focused veteran's service organizations based in Auburn, Washington. They are recognized as a Veteran’s Service organization by the Federal Government and the state of Washington and supported by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Their mission is to provide final tribute for all honorably discharged veterans, according to their blog.
“I think the tradition they (Inter-Tribal Warrior Society) has started lets us honor all the veterans,” said Virginia Cross, Muckleshoot Tribal Council Chairwoman. “Veterans have worked and fought for us and it is our turn to honor them.”
Cross said she is glad to see the pow wow committee, which took over the planning of the pow wow several years ago, has worked very hard to keep it going. Even though finding the funds proves difficult, every year the committee has found funding.
Cindy Darrington, Navajo, who has been in the Army for over 15 years, attended the pow wow for the first time this year.
“I’m really honored and glad Grant Timentwa (Pow wow coordinator) invited us,” she said.
Darrington is originally from Lake Valley, New Mexico, but is station in Denver, Colorado. Her title is a Unit Readiness NCO, which means she helps soldiers mobilize to go overseas.
Darrington is also part of a group called Native American Women Warriors. Two other group members joined her at the pow wow.
“I’m grateful and thankful we got to dance and honor veterans,” Darrington said.
Bargala who has attended the pow wow every year, believes that veteran pow wows are the way American Indian communities can honor their veterans.
"It is really nice to give all the veterans recognition for their patriotic service," said Bargala.
During the Vietnam era veterans weren’t welcomed home nicely, Baragala said. Veterans came home to hostilities because of people’s feelings about war.
“I never had a welcome home when I returned from Vietnam, but the pow wow gives me the opportunity to be honored,” said Art Lopez, Yaqui.
Lopez, served in the Army for 20 years and is a member of the Inter-Tribal Warriors Society. He said the pow wow not only allows him to be honored but the chance to meet and talk with other American Indian veterans.
“I always thank the Muckleshoot Tribe for doing this pow wow,” Lopez said. “If it wasn’t for them we (veterans) would be lost.”