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Arlee Celebration contests begin today

ARLEE — This year’s Arlee Celebration may be the biggest yet, if the number of inquiries about the event is any indication of how many dancers are planning to attend.

“My powwow phone … has been going crazy,” powwow chairman Alec Quequesah said Friday.

He’s heard from people all over the West asking for directions to the powwow grounds in Arlee and expects lots of first-timers this year. And with U.S. Highway 93 construction complete in the area, navigating the town should be much less of a hassle for powwow-goers.

“I think we’ll get more people (than last year,)” Quequesah said.

Around 420 dancers and 26 drum groups competed in 2009 Arlee Celebration, he said.

New features this year include a full day of traditional events on Thursday, which has been named Old Style Day.

“All the old songs will come out … and the dances we don’t see (any) more,” Quequesah said.

The powwow committee also added a parade to Saturday’s schedule, giving another option to powwow participants who don’t have time to make it into town for the Arlee Fourth of July Parade. The parade will wind its way through the powwow grounds beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“People can come and join from anywhere,” Quequesah noted. 

Participants can also expect to see Quequesah join in the stick games after a 10-year hiatus.

“I’m always stuck in the dance pavilion, so this year, I’m gonna play some stick game,” he said.

Octave Finley, Cecille Lumprey, and Barbara and Mike Durglo are among the elders being honored, powwow secretary Clara Charlo noted. Finley is also this year’s honorary war dance chief. Kenny McClure is head man, and Patricia McClure-Buffalo is head woman. Alec Quequesah will serve as announcer, and Charlie Quequesah will be the arena director.

The dance competition has several age divisions, including Golden Age (60 and up); Senior Adults (45-59); Adults (18-44); Teens (13-17); Juniors (7-12); and Tiny Tots (6 and under). Dance contest prizes total more than $50,000, with more than $10,000 up for grabs in the singing competition. To compete, dancers and singers/drummers must register in person beginning at 2 p.m. July 1.

Special dances throughout the celebration will include a Prairie Chicken Special, Men’s Traditional Special (Age 18-40), Hand Drum Special, Original Men’s Salish Style “Flathead’s Finest,” and Senior Adult Men and Women Combined Categories.

The schedule for the 2010 Arlee Celebration this week through July 4 is:

• June 30, Wednesday
Campers Day
7 p.m. Memorial Material Stick Game

• July 1, Thursday
Old Style Day
Native Games, Scalp Dance, War Dance, Coffee Dance, Canvas Dance, Gift Dance, Old Style Regalia
All Dancers are encouraged to attend and participate.

• July 2, Friday
2 p.m. Grand Entry
7 p.m. Competition Grand Entry

• July 3, Saturday
10 a.m. Parade
1 p.m. Competition Grand Entry
7 p.m. Competition Grand Entry

• July 4, Sunday
11 a.m. Indian Mass
2 p.m. Snake Dance

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