On Saturday Americans from all backgrounds celebrated their independence. Planned into the weekend full of barbecues and fireworks, Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Pendleton, Oregon hosted their 15th annual Pow Wow.
Other Fourth of July celebrations nearer to Walla Walla took precedence in Sunday’s print edition but I came back with several additional images I like and want to share here.
When I first arrived most of the participants were shading themselves from the near 100-degree summer sun under huge tents. Three dressed-up teenagers were reclining in chairs chatting. I decided to try and take some photos of the kids being themselves before the grand entry and official start of the Pow Wow. When admiring their amazing clothing I found these great reflections in Zac Palmer’s neck piece. I waiting for a moment when I could see Shelby Snyder, one of the people he was talking to, and ended up with one of my favorite images from the afternoon.
This frame was a difficult one to cut. The interaction between Peter Joe Olney (left), from White Swan, Washington, and Darrel Abrahamson (right), from Sacramento, California, is great. They are clearly happy to see each other again. I love the shallow depth of field at f/1.2 and the almost old feel it gives to some images like this as well.
Different groups of drummers began beating out rhythms one after the other as the Grand Entry to the Pow Wow began. Men, women and children of all ages walked and danced in a long procession behind tribal chiefs and elders. Perry Thompson, from Chinle, Arizona, kept his feathers flying the entire time. I wish I had shot this from the other side of the grounds to back light it and also take away the bright, distracting white and other colors on people in the foreground.
This images provides a general view of the Grand Entry and a small selection of the amazing dress worn. I decided to lay in the grass and shot this really low to emphasize the detail in the outfits and feathers against the sky. That also had the added benefit of obscuring the bright tents behind the many people in the arena.
As the Grand Entry came to an end I wandered around the outskirts and found this great moment between an uncle and his niece. Gary Olney, from White Swan, Washington, took a seat in the shade to cool off and his 3-year-old niece Analynn Olney decided to play among his feathers behind him. Analynn would casually walk below the headdress to play with the feathers and then tap her uncle on the back to get his attention. I knew immediately that this would be one of my favorite images from the day as well. I like the intimacy between family members especially considering the size of the event.
The Golden Age Men were the first to compete during the dance competition. I did not count, but anywhere from 15-20 men danced as one of the competition drum groups played and chanted. This is a simple image but I like it a lot. Unfortunately, after tracking down 4-5 other men for names after this dance, I was unable to find this man to ask for his name. C’est la vie! That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Insert whichever phrase you like here. (This was definitely a moment I wish I had the time to record some audio and video for a multimedia piece. Next year I will make the time.)
During the same dance Lee Sorrelhorse, from Lame Deer, Montana, performed covered in amazing feathers and a staff with a Bald Eagle head on it. As America’s national bird I thought it striking to see the head on a staff, especially on the Fourth of July. I thought the image perfectly underscored the intentions of the Pow Wow on Independence Day – to celebrate the sovereignty of both native peoples and the United States of America.