Mission Valley Honor Guard leads dancers

Mission Valley Honor Guard leads dancers during grand entry at the Veterans Honoring Powwow last weekend.

Char-Koosta News 

RONAN — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) hosted a powwow at the former Kicking Horse Job Corps Center (KHJCC) for the first time in years.

Waiting to dance

Young one smiles in the stands as he awaits grand entry.

KHJCC shut operations in 2019, and the area is now being used as a workplace for many CSKT departments. Many people have positive memories of the location, and members of the community expressed their delight at attending a powwow at the Kicking Horse after so many years.

Men and women of all ages moved across the gym floor in the form of a snake as more than 20 Veterans filed in line to be honored for their service.

According to "Over a Century of Moving the Drum," a book by CSKT elder Johnny Arlee, the Snake Dance was done to begin a war Dance.  It was conducted by a chosen man who assembled the dancers at a designated location, usually at the camp of the Chief of the Celebration. The dancers moved towards the war dance pavilion in a single file, with the leader weaving and doubling back like a snake. Following the group singing the Snake Dance Song were the drummers and singers.

"All tribes have a responsibility," said CSKT elder Eugene Felsman, a CSKT member from Ronan. "Even though we didn't have our citizenship for a long time, we still felt very strongly to protect our family, our religion, and our way of life.

Youth take to the dance floor

CSKT Elder Eugene Felsman (not pictured) expresses the joy when he sees youth on the dance floor.

"My dad passed away down in Evaro in 1971, I quit school, and instead of being drafted, I joined the service, becoming a Vietnam Veteran,” Felsman said. “Later, when I came out, I went into the Army Reserve and then ROTC, and I went on to being a first lieutenant."

When questioned about the Vietnam War, Felsman discussed some of the differences between Indian and non-Indian soldiers. He said the non-Indian soldiers treated the Vietnamese people poorly. 

“They treated the Vietnamese people badly,” he said. “They resembled Native Americans, and I became good friends with a lot of them over there.”

Felsman also stated that he believes the war was avoidable.

“Sometimes the leaders of our nations stir us in the wrong way and sometimes the media is not very good. We could have avoided that war, but sometimes key individuals stir us that way, Felsman said. “I'm still glad to be in service that way anyway.”

According to Felsman his late relative Alexander Matt was captain of the Indian scouts during the Nez Perce War of 1877.

According to history.com, the US government violated a land treaty with the Nez Perce earlier in 1877, forcing the tribe out of their territory in the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon and relocating them to Idaho.

For more than three months, Chief Joseph "began one of the great retreats in American military history." As the Nez Perce outwitted and battled more than 2,000 pursuing American soldiers, Chief Joseph led 300 Nez Perse toward the Canada border over a distance of more than 1,000 miles.

Never too young to start powwow dancing

A sleeping baby in a cradleboard joins the family in dancing.

Chief Joseph was cornered by the U.S. Army just 40 miles from Canada, and his people were forcibly relocated to a reservation. “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” A declaration by Chief Joseph in the Bear Paw mountains, according to history.com

America has a troubled past that spans several eras and generations. A history of capturing Indians, removing Indians, killing Indians, civilizing Indians, befriending Indians, using Indians, and Indians killing Indians. It is a long timeline of survival. 

“Each of us tries to serve our nation as best we can,” Felsman said.

Evelyn and Lyrix get into powwow spirit

CSKT member Lexx Pierre's daughter Evelyn Michelle Pierre and son Lyrix SkWtɫmalyyémistn (Big Medicine) Sapiel get into powwow spirit

Ruth Swaney, CSKT Administration Budget Director, said she is thankful beyond words. “Our committee held the Veterans Honoring and Powwow at Kicking Horse gym, a place near and dear to my heart for 50 years.”

“I gratefully acknowledge all the hard work of our committee who proudly brought about this event: Les Trahan, chairman; Carm Charm Ann Matt, vice chair; and Jennifer Trahan, Debbie L. Bell, and Naomi Robinson. We thank our sponsors and donors CS&K Tribes, Tribal Health Department, Kwataqnuk Resort and Casino, Eagle Bank, Stuart’s NAPA, and Old Timer Cafe.”

“We thank our head staff for their service in carrying out this year’s powwow: AJ McDonald, head man; Lisa Shourds, head woman; Martin Charlo, arena director; Dan Trahan, MC; the Veterans Warrior Society; and Shadow Devereaux and RJ LaValley, sound system.”

“We thank all the singers and dancers who traveled near and far to celebrate and honor our Veterans and military service people,” and “Lemlmtš ɫu pi sqelixʷ.”

George Vanderberg and Esther Johnson

As the golden age is called to the dance floor, George Vanderberg and Esther Johnson join the circle together

Results of 2022 Veterans Honoring and Powwow at Kicking Horse, Ronan MT:




Willow Creek

Red Horn

Young Grey Horse

Chief Cliff

Starr Society

Dance Contests:

Women Veterans Special

1st Bobbie Orr

2nd Lisa Shourds

3rd Jenna Kenmille

Consolation - Trina Ponce

Men Veterans Special

1st Jim Adams

2nd Tom Trahan

3rd Gary Adolph

All other dancers received Consolations

Women Traditional

1st Brittney Hunter

2nd Lena Tewawina

3rd Angel Little Plume

Men Traditional

1st Ike Carpenter

2nd Will Mesteth Jr.

3rd Louie James

Women Old Style Jingle

1st Shinaashe Pete

2nd Malia Osbourne

3rd Nina Orozco

Men Prairie Chicken

1st Joe Upham

2nd Thomas Addison

3rd Pat Matt

Women Contemporary Jingle

1st Alex Pierre

2nd Marianne Addison

3rd Jill Graves

Men Grass

1st Walden Tewawina

2nd Talon Addison

Women Fancy

1st Siliye Pete

2nd Precious David

3rd Valene Talks Different

Men Fancy

1st Noah Durheim

2nd Darius Tewawina

3rd Ridge Vanderburg

Little ones learn the dance

Tots don traditional regalia and get on the dance floor.

Junior Girls All Categories Evening Session

1st Phia Mays

2nd Jemma Croff

3rd Johnny James

Junior Boys All Categories Evening Session

1st Derrick Whitegrass

2nd Louie Paul Jr.

3rd Cekwssn Bell

Teen Girls All Categories Evening Session

1st Teslyn Trombley

2nd Jazlin New robe

3rd Taryn Haynes Matt

Teen Boys All Categories Evening Session

1st Darius Tewawina

2nd Talon Addison

3rd Thomas Addison

Teen Boys Traditional Afternoon Session

1st Avary McDonald

2nd Thomas Addison

3rd Mikey McCrea

Teen Girls Traditional Afternoon Session

1st Bella One Salt

Teen Girls Contemporary Jingle Afternoon Session

1st Sierra Scout

2nd Sashee Fry

Teen Boys Fancy Afternoon Session

1st Chrome Louie

Teen Girls Fancy Afternoon Session

1st Kathryn Potts

2nd Jazlin New Robe

3rd Taryn Haynes Matt

Junior Boys Traditional Afternoon Session

1st Louie Paul

2nd Eneas Inmee

3rd Abel Adams

Junior Girls Traditional Afternoon Session

1st Emily Adams

2nd Lariah Whitegrass

3rd Phia Mays

Junior Boys Prairie Chicken Afternoon Session

1st Derrick Whitegrass

Junior Girls Jingle Afternoon Session

1st Lariah Whitegrass

2nd Jemma Croff

3rd Ayona Brody

Junior Boys Grass Afternoon Session

1st Aaron Fry

2nd Jackson Eagle Speaker

Junior Girls Fancy Afternoon Session

1st Juniper First Strike

2nd Bebe

3rd Hunter Grinsell

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