Northwest culture on display at Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow

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SEATTLE - The annual Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow's organizers estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors attended this year's three-day event at beautiful Discovery Park in Seattle. The 2007 Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow honored and celebrated the 30th anniversary of the historic takeover of Fort Lawton in Seattle by American Indian leaders.

That celebrated takeover was led by the famous Bernie Whitebear and resulted in the federal government backing down and turning over 20 acres of prime real estate next to Puget Sound to the Native occupiers.

The ceded land was used by Whitebear and the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation to become the home for the new Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.

The Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow is held each year at Daybreak Star's pow wow grounds. The weather did not entirely cooperate with the organizers this year, but despite the unusual Seattle summer rain, the attendance at one of the Northwest's largest pow wows was on track to keep pace with past pow wows. Dancers, drums and vendors traveled to Seattle from Idaho, Alaska, Oregon and California. The smell of cooked fresh salmon mixed with the smoke of cedar, sage and sweetgrass.

Pam Nason, Nez Perce, Yakama and Colville, chaired this year's pow wow committee. Nason, who has the energy of 10 women, spent the weekend rushing from one event to another tracking down judges, and served as the press coordinator for the pow wow.

Nason said that this year's pow wow was ''really good even with the rain. This is a special year, not only because it's the 30th anniversary of the Fort Lawton takeover, led by Bernie Whitebear, but also because we had a lot of memorials this weekend because of the amount of Indian soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.''

Nason added that ''it is really important for our Indian youth to learn about the 1977 takeover, the creation of Daybreak Star, and Bernie. We are trying to get back to his vision and mission to create a unified Native family; one that takes care of each other. That 'familiness' is the heartbeat of United Indians of All Tribes.''

On July 22, a talented field of contestants was narrowed to one as Talia Reasoner, Seminole and Cherokee, won the coveted title of Miss Seafair Indian Days Princess.

Rudy ''Boots'' Romero, Nooksack, was one of the many pow wow vendors. His company, Native Instincts, was selling some of the most distinctive clothing at the pow wow. Almost sold-out, the Native Instinct line of clothing includes T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with beautifully arranged Northwest designs that gracefully straddle the line between tradition and cutting-edge fashion. Romero said the attendance was great for the company's business.

Over on the other side of the pow wow, Janel Riley, Solana Booth and Eileen John volunteered at the NorthWest Justice Project's booth. The women were helping the pow wow attendees fill out surveys that the project will use to help the Native community obtain stronger legal representation when it comes to housing, employment discrimination, racial profiling and health benefits.

The Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow takes place each year at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Discovery Park. It is part of the annual Seafair celebration, Seattle's six-week summer celebration that has been held since 1950.