© 2022 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Oregon's Willamette Valley seen from Eugene
NPR for Oregonians
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

At Tamkaliks, Wallowa Nez Perce come to compete, connect, and commemorate

Brian Bull
Dancers gather in the space known as the Arbor to compete at the Tamkaliks pow-wow in Wallowa.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, a large cultural gathering returned to eastern Oregon this past weekend: the 30th anniversary Tamkaliks celebration.

Brian Bull
On the first day of the 2022 Tamkaliks celebration, veterans and elders lead the grand entry.

Dozens of dancers dressed in feathers, beadwork, and porcupine quills marked each pow-wow’s grand entry. Regional drum groups played as well, with a procession of Appaloosa horses circling the gathering for other events. Beyond the covered gathering area called the Arbor, vendors selling fry bread, Indian jewelry, blankets, and clothes showed off their wares to visitors.

The Tamkaliks gathering is for descendants of the Wallowa Band of Nez Perce who were forced off their lands in 1877 and pursued by the U.S. Army, before surrendering just shy of the Canadian border. Many historians and Old West aficionados consider Chief Joseph the Younger's surrender speech one of the most eloquent and moving chapters of the 19th century. Joseph and many other Nez Perce were never allowed back to the Wallowas, and spent the rest of their lives exiled to reservations.

Bobbie Conner is one of the event organizers.

Brian Bull
Bobbie Conner, who is of Umatilla, Cayuse, and Nez Perce heritage, with one of her horses.

“We believe the land hears our prayers. Feels our footsteps on the earth. And the land is happy to welcome us back," Conners told KLCC as she prepped her horses. "But we also believe that there is a light in the earth, that lights up when we bring ceremony to the landscape. And it lights up our hearts when we gather to celebrate this magnificent country that we come from.”

Another event commemorated Native children who went missing during the boarding school era. Recent investigations have turned up scores of burial sites for children sent to the schools in the U.S. and Canada between roughly the 1850s through the 1960s (though a handful do remain today.)

One cause for celebration this year besides renewing Tamkaliks, is the Nez Perce Tribe’s recent acquisition of 148 acres that formerly formed an ancestral village in the town of Joseph.

30th annual Tamkaliks Celebration returns

Note: KLCC reporter Brian Bull is a member of the Wallowa Band of Nez Perce.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Related Content