Char-Koosta News 

RONAN — As the Julyamsh Powwow came to a close in Post Falls, Idaho and the final games of the Flathead Lake 3-on-3 were being played in Polson, over 30 people carved time in their Sunday afternoon to attend the first Arlee Powwow Committee meeting scheduled following the 2019 celebration.

The Powwow Committee officers play a critical role. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) contribute $40,000 for both the Arlee Powwow and Standing Arrow Powwow Celebrations. The budget is managed by elected officers, who are responsible for fundraising, planning, and executing the annual event. 

The new committee members are Ronald Matt, chairman; Charlene Petet, vice chairman; Pam Dustybull, treasurer; and Norrie Dustybull, secretary.

Serving on the Powwow Committee is voluntary. For the past two years, chairman David Durgeloh, vice chairman Jerome Lumpry, treasurer Justin Benn, and secretary Lavinia Bravo have managed Arlee Powwow.

The newly appointed powwow committee immediately made motions to prepare for the 2020 celebration. The group agreed to visit the powwow grounds and take notes of any maintenance issues that needed to be addressed; a motion was made to consult with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ legal team to update the committee bylaws; and begin fundraising.

The legacy of the Arlee Powwow is one of resistance. According to its official website: “The earliest evidence of an attempt to hold a Fourth of July Powwow was in 1891. In the 1890s, however, traditional Indian dances were illegal under Bureau of Indian Affairs rules, and the Indian police and Flathead Indian Agent Peter Ronan used the threat of U.S. Army intervention to break up the dance. The Bureau of Indian Affairs found it difficult to argue that it should be illegal to celebrate the Fourth of July, though for a time government attempts to suppress traditional dances forced the tribes to hold them secretly.”

The 2020 Arlee Powwow Committee will be hosting its next meeting on August 29 at the Arlee Powwow Grounds at 6 p.m. Volunteers are welcome.

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