Members of the Nez Perce Indian Nation will present their traditional memorial ceremony on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Saturday, April 22.
The nearly three-hour ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. across 5th Street from the reconstructed Fort Vancouver. It is free to the public, although donations are welcome.
The ceremony, presented by the Nez Perce Nation in cooperation with the City of Vancouver, the Fort Vancouver National Trust and the National Park Service, pays tribute to tribal ideals, honors tribal ancestors and helps to heal old wounds.
During the Nez Perce War of 1877, as the U.S. Army was attempting to remove tribal members from ancestral lands, 33 members of Chief Redheart’s band were captured under the direction of General O.O. Howard. Even though the band neither fought in Indian Wars nor committed any crimes, they were held prisoner at Fort Vancouver through the winter of 1877-78. An infant member of the band died during this imprisonment.
Ceremonial activities include singing, speeches, a Riderless Horse (empty-saddle) ceremony and a traditional passing of the peace pipe. All U.S. military veterans are invited to join the ceremonial circle and be recognized.
Refreshments at the ceremony provided by Meals on Wheels. Visitors should bring blankets or lawn chairs. Ample parking is available on 5th Street.
After the ceremony, the public is encouraged to attend a traditional Native American meal, prepared and served by the Northwest Indian Veterans Association located in the Artillery Barracks at 600 E. Hatheway Road, a few blocks from the Fort.
For more information about the event, visit www.cityofvancouver.us/ChiefRedheart.
Stacey Donovan, Special Events Manager