SPOKANE, Wa. – The 19th annual Spokane Falls Northwest Indian Encampment and Pow Wow almost didn’t happen this year after organizers realized they just didn’t have the budget.
Fortunately, with help from Spokane Mayor Mary Vernor and Harry Sladich, president and CEO of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau organizers were able to pull it together. They received a grant of $10,000 from the city’s lodging tax grant money.
This annual event draws natives as well as non-natives from all over the Northwest United States as well as Canada. It has become an annual event of unity. With all the local tribes hosting their own individual powwows, this encampment powwow has become an area tradition that unites all the local tribes in an area filled with tradition, culture and history.
The historic Spokane falls have been a traditional meeting and gathering place for Native Americans for hundreds and hundreds of years. Long before the current day Riverfront Park was built and long before the city of Spokane was established, Salmon was plentiful at these falls and was fished regularly for many generations.
This year’s arena director Francis Cullooyah, Kalispel, helped keep things moving while, this year’s array of masters of ceremonies including Gabby Coral Sr., Spokane, Victor Lazarte, Coeur d’Alene, Soy Redthunder, Colville, and Fred Hill Sr., Umatilla, kept the crowds entertained. Representatives from many other local tribes were present as well including, the Nez Perce, Kootenai, Yakima, and Blackfeet to name a few.
Although initial support for this year’s event seemed to be down, attendance proved otherwise. Great weather, 17 drums, hundreds of dancers and thousands of spectators made this year’s event fun-filled and memorable for all and left everyone looking forward to next year’s event.