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A day to celebrate.

Byline: Laura Ruggeri The Register-Guard

Singing, the pounding of drums and a swirl of color brought the gymnasium at Lane Community College to life Saturday during the annual powwow hosted by the LCC Native American Student Association.

Colors of all kinds flowed as the dancers moved in a circle around the room. Many of the participants wore moccasins and had feathers in their hair. Elaborate beading was another common sight, as were shells, bells and fur.

The colors can have different meanings to different tribes, LCC student Hannah Hartsell said.

Red, for example, is an overall tribal color, said Hartsell, who was wearing a long-sleeve red shirt with "Got Land? Thank an Indian" across the front.

She is a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe and the LCC Native American Student Association. Hartsell spent three hours Friday night helping set up for the powwow, she said, with much more time spent planning and scheduling.

Although many tribes use different names for the event, a powwow is a gathering of family and community, Hartsell said.

"It's kind of like church to us," she said,

Each tribe has different celebrations, said Ron Belgard, a member of the Siletz Tribe and the Cree Nation attending his first LCC powwow. He's been "powwowing" all his life - 33 years - and said he's seen dancers of all ages at powwows, from 1 to 90.

Belgard, who planned to drum and sing during the powwow, said the events are a good path to healing.

Around the perimeter of the gymnasium, and outside the room, vendors were selling beads, artwork and music.

John and Maggie Eley were selling wooden flutes. He makes them and she plays them, Maggie Eley explained.

A nurse at the state hospital, Maggie Eley said she finds the flute to be a healing instrument and often plays for her patients.

"They always ask me to play," she said.

Although the couple are not members of a tribe, they are "Native in our hearts," Maggie Eley said. They attend powwows and flute shows with their instruments, she said, although this was the first time they'd been to the LCC powwow.

Aaron Gentry, a Klamath Tribe member, was attending the LCC powwow for the third time and has been attending powwows all of his 39 years.

All summer long he is on the powwow circuit, Gentry said during a break from dancing.

He started attending them with his grandfather and mother. Many of the items he wore Saturday were given to him, he said, such as eagle feathers and beadwork given to him by his grandfather. He received the beadwork when he was 12, he said, with the colors from a Montana tribe.

"Dancing is a gift," Gentry said. "A lot of Natives don't dance anymore and are losing touch with who they are."

"It's a family thing, and it's good."

For Felicia Florendo, 12, who traveled with her family from the Warms Springs Reservation, the powwow was more about family than friends. At many powwows, she said she gets to visit with family that she doesn't otherwise see very often.

Florendo wore a fuchsia colored dress with silver metal cones that jingled when she danced. Her 26-year-old sister, Chava Florendo, made the dress, she said. Her sister also does a lot of beading, Florendo said.

Florendo has been to the LCC powwow "many" times, she said. Dancing is her "second-favorite thing in the whole world," she said, after singing and drumming with her family.

She dances to remember and honor her elders, she said.

"You dance for the ones who can't dance," Florendo said.
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Title Annotation:City/Region
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 7, 2008
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