Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Small Salmon honored at 120th Arlee Celebration

ARLEE –Stipn Small Salmon proudly led a line of dancers at the 120th Arlee Celebration on Wednesday, July 4, during the week-long event at the powwow grounds. 

As an elder of the Qlispe tribe with more than 70 years of life, Small Salmon was asked to be the War Dance Chief this year. As the chief, he said it was time to take out an eagle feather staff that belonged to his father Mitch Small Salmon. He put the staff away 42 years ago and waited for the perfect occasion. 

“It was a good time to bring it out,” he said. 

Small Salmon held onto his Qlispe (Pend d’Oreille) language after being sent to a boarding school when he was a kid. He said he “talked Indian” to his elders and continued to practice cultural traditions like hunting, drying meat and picking berries. He also protected many sacred items like the eagle feather staff. He said a prayer for the celebration in his native language before the dance started.

David Durgeloh, Jr. was the chairman for this year’s celebration. He said he has attended the event since he was a kid but is depending on the elders to give him guidance. He said people with different tribes from as far away as Canada to Arizona have attended the celebration along with thousands of spectators. 

“We want to make this a great celebration and keep it going,” he said.

On Thursday, Leniece Trahan danced with the thought that she was about to give up her Miss Salish-Pend d’Oreille title after serving in the position for a year. As she stood near the podium to hear the new title holder’s name, she felt a sense of overwhelming excitement. Her name was called again to serve for another year, which is something that doesn’t happen very often. 

“I really like representing my tribe,” she said, “so I was really happy.”

Trahan kept her beaded crown on her head instead of passing it on, and she was also given a new beaded necklace. She was told that a new crown was being made for her with the names of the tribes changed from the English version to their original pronunciation. 

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