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By Emily Hoard • Staff Writer • 

Chemeketa hosts Spring Gathering

The occasion was the third annual Native American Spring Gathering, meant to honor Native American heritage and encourage cross-cultural learning and dialogue. 

Keely Baca, anthropology instructor and Yamhill Tribal Club adviser, said the goal is to educate students and members of the larger community about the indigenous people of their area. She said it also provides an opportunity to celebrate local tribes and simply have some fun.

Kassie Rosenbalm, a first-year student, said she enjoyed the event and plans to attend next year. “Experiencing another culture is an amazing idea and will benefit people later in life, no matter what career they go into,” she said.

After a lunch of fry bread tacos, with a mixed berry dessert, about 140 attendees gathered in the front courtyard to watch the Grand Ronde Canoe Family singers and Siletz Feather Dancers.

The leader of the Siletz Feather Dancers played the drum and sang in the Siletz Dee-ni language, while young performers waved feathers and danced. He said the songs and dances were intended to thank the Creator.

The Grand Ronde Canoe Family singers danced and sang in their language, Chinuk-wawa. Their leader explained the significance of each song and invited the audience to join in the last dance, in which performers imitated the movements of a Great Blue Heron getting stuck in mud and wiggling free.

The free event included two vendor booths featuring native artisan crafts, including dream catchers, beaded rattles and jewelry. Terry Filer of Passion Vine on Third Street demonstrated how to make medicine bags at her booth.

Activities for children including face painting, Play-Doh sculpting and the fashioning of friendship bracelets. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn the jargon of the Grand Ronde tribe on an iPad app.

Ryan West, associate dean at Chemeketa’s local campus, said he appreciated the performers for sharing their history and culture with students.

“Native students in college are really underrepresented, so, of course, their viewpoints don’t get shared very often,” West said. “Events like this allow students, who would otherwise not really be exposed to any sort of Native tradition, have that opportunity.”

Lea Griess, an academic adviser and retention specialist, said the spring gatherings have all had a Native American focus so far, but she would like to have other cultures represented as well.

“I think a lot of our students haven’t had the chance to explore different cultures, or how other cultures experience living in such a predominately white space,” Griess said. “That’s my goal as an educator, to try to get more of these events on campus or in the area so our students and community members can have access and opportunities to learn more about different cultures. I think that’s really important.”

The event was sponsored by the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Yamhill Tribal Club, Oregon Cultural Trust and Oregon Community Foundation, in collaboration with the college.


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