Hundreds support Siletz Tribe

November 18, 2007

Raymond Ben of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians dances with his grandson, Jayden Ben, 6.LINCOLN CITY -- Bekki Sipe might not have been a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, but that didn't mean it wasn't important for her to be at the tribe's powwow Saturday.

"We came to support each other as Indians," said Sipe, a Lakota Tribe member. "It's a time of celebration."

Sipe, 37, of Dallas was among hundreds of people who attended the Siletz Tribe's annual powwow Saturday at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City. The event celebrated 30 years of restoration for the tribe.

The Siletz became the first tribe in the state and the second in the nation to achieve the feat in 1977, regaining its status as a federally recognized tribe.

"We're very proud," said Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, a Siletz tribal elder. "We're proud of our people."

The powwow Saturday boasted drumming and dances by many who donned colorful regalia. The event also honored veterans with a dance, as well as the late tribal elder Delbert Bell and his family.

It was the first powwow that Jon Kuchy of Portland had attended. The 48-year-old has in-laws who are American Indians.

"I wanted to help celebrate," he said. "I think it's important that (the Siletz tribe) preserve their heritage as much as possible. I like that they do it in a public and festive manner."

American Indian vendors sold everything from T-shirts to artwork to jewelry throughout the celebration.

Monica Logan, a Siletz tribal member, bought three sweatshirts for her children from Oceanside Screen-Printing, a Siletz tribal business.

"It's important to support each other and support tribal businesses," she said.

While many at the powwow were American Indians, some were not. Siletz tribal elder Ed Ben, who worked on restoration, said he was glad the public came to the event.

"We want them to understand a small bit of our culture," he said. "It gives them the opportunity to thirst for more information."