How would you like to immerse yourself in Native American culture for a weekend?
Whether you are visiting or calling Seattle your home, being here without discovering the native culture would be like visiting Paris and saying “I have been to France”. Traveling means more than crossing a country’s borders and checking it off the list. It’s about getting to know its culture, its people, its cuisine, its nature … and taking the time to experience it! So when an American road trip plan with a friend fell through, my finger landed on Seattle with its three national parks and annual Powwow. The Chief Si’ahl of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes gave his name to the city.
What is a Powwow?
When I arrived in Seattle, I noticed that few people knew about Powwows. In fact, the only one who knew what I was talking about were Europeans like me. Surprising, isn’t it? Unless it’s a sign of a common trend to show more interest in the exotic neighbor’s garden rather than our own.
I also noticed that many Americans like sharing their origins. “You are from Belgium! My family is German / Swedish / Irish / Italian…”. It really struck me during my first days here. This shows our desire for belonging and to identify with our roots. In Europe, we have a long history that lifts us (and sometimes weighs us down) and our roots go back many generations.
The Powwow is something like that. A gathering among members of a tribe – or, in the case of the great annual Seattle Powwow, tribes from everywhere. It’s a moment in time shared around a meal, songs, dances … A moment of fraternity to meet the other, oneself, one’s roots.
At the Powwow, you will have the opportunity to taste Native American cuisine, including the famous salmon smoked over cedar wood. You will discover unique artistic creations and if you have always dreamt of a drum, you will be spoiled for choice! And, throughout the day, tribes from all over the United States and Canada will dance in regalia – the exact term for traditional ceremonial dress, which is not a costume!
Where, when, how?
This great Powwow takes place every year during the Seafair Festival – the Seattle Summer Festival – right in Discovery Park on the plain adjacent to the Native American Cultural Center – Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park! It offers beautiful walks in the forest and on the beach, as well as a splendid view of Mount Rainier next to the West Point lighthouse. Take advantage of the Powwow to explore the park.
Traditionally, it takes place every third weekend of July. This year, it will be Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July 2019. And when I say “great”, I mean several thousand people over a weekend! The more the merrier! So, don’t be shy and add this cultural event to your calendar right away.
5011 Bernie Whitebear Way, Seattle, WA 98199
Friday 19/07/2019 7pm (coastal grand entry at 6pm). Free admission.
Saturday 20/07/2019 12pm (coastal grand entry at 11am) and Sunday 21/07/2019 12pm. Entry $ 5
Read also the FAQ here
Powwows are definitely a great way to experience Native American culture, be sure to join!