School district hosts Pow-wow

Pow-Wow Princess Tanya Taff and Warrior Santos Bonnell will lead Saturday’s activities. -  Photo by Brenda Sexton To view or buy photos go to
Pow-Wow Princess Tanya Taff and Warrior Santos Bonnell will lead Saturday’s activities.
— image credit: Photo by Brenda Sexton To view or buy photos go to

A typical Tuesday afternoon for the Enumclaw School District Native American dance troupe involves twirling and quick-stepping to the beat of the drums in the Southwood Elementary School gymnasium.

All that hard work is about to pay off as the 20 dancers covering grades kindergarten through high school get their chance to shine Saturday at the annual Enumclaw School District Pow-Wow in the Enumclaw High School gymnasium.

“The pow-pow gives them a great opportunity to share the skills they’ve been working on for months,” Enumclaw School District Native American Specialist Cathy Calvert, a Muckleshoot Tribal member, said.

The dancers will also perform at a number of school assemblies, as well as many parades, the American Cancer Society’s Enumclaw Relay For Life in June and for the Seattle Coast Guard in the fall.

Saturday, the doors open at 1 p.m. with the first of two grand entries. The second grand entry is slated for 7 p.m. The event is scheduled to run until 11 p.m. with performances, food and raffles. The pow-wow, sponsored by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Native Parent Association, is free to the public.

This is the 14th year for the pow-wow, which started in 1995 under the direction of Sharon Calvert (Muckleshoot) and Diana DeCory-Toelken (Mowhawk-Navajo).

“Although it’s in its 14th year, there hasn’t been a lot of community participation,” Calvert said. “It’s a great cultural event for families to attend.

“We want to let the community know we’d love to have them come and participate.”

The Enumclaw School District’s Native American Program includes more than 100 students representing tribes and bands from across the continental United States and Alaska.

Participating in the dance troupe is just one activity for the group, but between January and May, it’s a big commitment for the students who join. It’s also an important one.

Calvert said it takes a willing heart to learn to dance and understand the cultural traditions of the dance and the meanings behind the regalia.

This year, the students are under the direction of dance instructor Shaylen Smith (Canadian Blackfeet), a University of Washington student, who danced competitively across North America and won several competitions.

“We were lucky to find her,” Calvert said.

Another part of the Pow-Wow will include the selection of new royalty. Enumclaw School District Warrior Santos Bonnell (Sandia/Isleta/Yokut) and Pow-Wow Princess Tanya Taff (Navajo-Apache) will conclude their reign. Warrior and pow-wow princess are year-long positions. Judges are selected the day of the pow-wow to review each candidate and their speech at the event.

“Part of their responsibility is to be role models for other students,” Calvert said.

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