Mt. Tum Tum

A couple weeks ago, the town of Amboy, WA played host to the annual Mt. Tum Tum Encampment. While visiting my folks, I was able to visit the event, which gives local (and not so local) Native Americans an opportunity to gather for a weekend of sharing cultural traditions, music making, ceremonial dancing, catching up with old friends, and craft making.

The event was originally put together by the Blue Clan, a small group of Cherokee descendants who now make their home in the Pacific Northwest. The weekend-long encampment allows participants to promote and keep alive long standing Native traditions, such as dances, crafts, dress (regalia), and even food. While no schedule exists, the event centers around a group of drummers who create an outdoor venue for grass dancing, green corn dancing, snake dancing, and others. Many wear traditional regalia intact with various bird feathers, ribbon shirts, intricately designed shawls, and other animal themed dress.

Meanwhile, vendors set up along the perimeter of the grounds to sell Native jewelry, clothes (I bought a shirt with a picture of four chiefs with the caption, "Homeland Security: Defending Terrorism Since 1492), drums, masks, flutes, and incenses. The climax of the 3 day event is a ceremonial dance by a group of Aztecs who come from Southern California and Mexico. They perform their dance at midnight under a full moon, led by a man with a full eagle-headed head dress, capped with 2-foot long feathers. Part of their dance was to commemorate the passing of a local elder's (Geronimo) wife a year ago. Geronimo (left) has been an active participant at the encampment for over 10 years, once as a dancer and craft-seller, now more as a story teller and mingler.

Our friend, Blackhawk (part of the Blue Clan), had a booth at the encampment in which she sold handmade drums, masks, and books written by my step dad, Sleeping Crow (you can find his book online at http://sleepingcrow.wordpress.com/). Although only a yearly event, the Tum Tum Encampment plays a huge part in keeping Native traditions alive in the Northwest. It was a great experience to witness a way of life that has persevered for thousands of years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sweet commentary, Jeffrey. Love it. -Mikey