Recent conference led by the Kalispels draws hundreds of participants
By Cindy Hval
The tune was familiar but the words were not.
That’s because the song was performed in Salish at the Salish Karaoke Contest on March 6 during the Celebrating Salish Conference.
More than 400 tribal members from across the Northwest registered to attend the three-day conference. They had much to celebrate. Just a few years ago, the Salish language languished in near oblivion.
By Alyssa Nenemay
Aside from the workshops, the conference is gaining recognition for its growing powwow, karaoke contest, and awards/recognitions. The Karaoke contest challenges participants to translate popular music in the Salish language. This year’s winner CeCe Curtis Cook performed a Salish version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was complete with zombie dancers and a shimmering hand glove.
Amidst the many nations in attendance, residents of the Flathead Reservation participated in the festivities. Local drum group Yamncut performed during the powwow using a drum that had been painted by renowned tribal artist the late George Flett, and elder Pat Pierre was recognized for his many years of teaching.
“The younger people are learning. They’re working to learn more and I think it’s really good. We need to have a lot more of that. More people need to gain interest in what they can do to bring back our language and the ways of our people. This is our identity. We can never lose who we are,” said Pierre.