July 17, 2001 11:00 pm
Indian dancers of all ages will converge in Wallowa this weekend. (File photo).
Indian dancers of all ages will converge in Wallowa this weekend. (File photo).

By Rachel Wesche

Observer intern

As the Nez Perce in Wallowa County continue to celebrate this months opening of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project Interpretive Center, they are also preparing for their 11th annual TamKaLiks celebration this weekend at the Wallowa Homeland Site.

The three-day event at Wallowa, conducted by the Nez Perce along with the Columbia Plateau tribes, will begin with a horseback homecoming parade at 10 a.m. Friday.

Much of Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday will be open for memorials and namings.

The weekend will feature three days of competition dancing. Grand entries, followed by contestants performances, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dancers will be entered in several categories, including tiny tots, traditional dancing for boys, girls, men and women, fancy shawl, fast and fancy, jingle dress and grass dance.

A special event, the Jimmy Wilkinson Prairie Chicken Dance Contest, is planned for Saturday night. This contest, also known as the round bustle dance, is new this year and will feature traditional song and dance by men 18 and older.

A Washat service is planned for 9 a.m. Sunday. As with other events, the public is invited to attend this traditional American Indian religious ceremony.

Spectators should note, however, that they are not allowed to photograph or otherwise record this service or other unscheduled ceremonies that may take place. They are also asked to keep silent during the ceremony.

At 11 p.m. Sunday, following the Washat service, there will be a Friendship Feast potluck meal. More than 500 people are expected to attend.

Buffalo, game meat and salmon will be provided. Participants are asked to contribute side dishes, especially salads and fruits.

The TamKaLiks celebration has grown significantly since its founder, the late Taz Conner of Wallowa, first dreamed of a celebration to honor his cultural heritage.

Although this event does not have a long history, many of its components were being handed down through generations long before white people set foot in the region.

Now, organizers say, guests as well as Native American participants can experience and appreciate this vibrant culture.