Last Saturday was a Rockwellian day in Madras
What a summer day! Cruising around Madras Saturday about midday was something like one of those Rockwell painting for a "Saturday Evening Post" cover.
I took a swing along Bean Drive to check out the Little League All-Star Tournament. It was almost like a carnival at Juniper Hills Park, with even a resident on Bean Drive selling shaved ice. Awesome. I headed into town down B Street, with the stunning Three Sisters to Mount Hood panorama, proudly held up by the muscular foothills of the Cascades. Man, I thought, what a Chamber of Commerce advertisement morning for Madras. We take it for granted, the million-dollar views we're provided for free, but I'd wager that a good many of the visitors thought it was pretty spectacular.
Hitting town, my eyes took in the brilliant flowers and the artisan culture of Saturday Market raging at Sahalee Park. I couldn't stop at the park, though; had a passenger who had another destination in mind. At Fifth Street, I stopped at the light. Traffic was busy, but not pain-in-the-butt, three-day weekend busy, but a robust amount of vehicles common in most healthy towns. I looked up and down Fifth: everything clean, nice and sharp on the crystal clear, haze-free day. I was soon hanging a left on Fourth. The city's flower pots popped with color. The restaurants appeared bustling. The City Hall and courthouse, with the Tucker statue, made for an impressive "town square," I thought, man, town looked good today.
If everything wasn't Normal Rockwell Americana enough, there were the MHS cheerleaders doing a car wash at the NAPA parking lot. Perfect. Made me think, my truck, with its cracked windshield, busted side mirrors and a couple months of Madras dust stuck on the metal, was probably the most depressing thing in the town this fine day. But we didn't have 15 minutes to invest in a wash; we had rocks on the brain — the rockhound powwow. My 12-year-old daughter digs rocks and, well, buying things. The powwow nicely combines the two.
The fabulous Madras summer day continued at the fairgrounds. Everyone we came across showing their wares was friendly, laid back and welcoming, literally the most down-to-Earth people anywhere, those rockhounds.
This was, amazingly, the 70th anniversary of the rockhound powwow in Madras. I recall being a little kid hoofing around the fairgrounds during the powwow. A round coffee table with inlaid rock and petrified wood, purchased sometime in the early to mid-70s at the powwow, was the family living room centerpiece for decades.
I could have spent hundreds at the show Saturday, and kept thinking how a collection of those thin slabs would look fantastic arranged in a big frame as a piece of wall art. Maybe that's why I only brought a few twenties and got away with buying some jewelry and knickknacks for the kid and funding a daughter's present of a necklace to her mom. Maybe next year I'll spring for something I can have as a centerpiece in my own home for a few decades.
The rock show capped my Rockwellian Saturday in Madras. Those rockhounds may not have been from Madras, but they sure made great ambassadors for the town.
Congratulations to the tribes on the 50th Annual Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days powwow, set for this weekend.
Think about it: Most communities have a hard time keeping a multi-pronged community festival upright for more than 10 years, certainly reaching 25 is a longshot, amid cultural and societal changes, event leaders coming and going, and visionaries hitting and missing. Hitting 50 is a spectacular achievement.
Pi-Ume-Sha is a beautiful event for nonNatives to experience as well. It's a living history celebration, water-colored with stunning regalia, an event with a capacity to transport witnesses back in time.
Pi-Ume-Sha was started to celebrate the treaty with the United States creating the reservation. Some Warm Springs residents note, tongue in cheek, that maybe that isn't something to celebrate (while others say it and mean it). Pi-Ume-Sha is certainly a celebration of Native American pride, and Warm Springs pride specifically. And that's worth celebrating and enriching.
I like to note it whenever I can: the Warm Springs Nation and its reservation is older than the state of Oregon. The treaty with the Middle Bands of Oregon, which created the reservation, was forged in 1855. Oregon didn't become a state until 1859.
I have little doubt Pi-Ume-Sha will roll for another 50 years, maybe 150 or more ... celebrating the Northwest's Native culture, its history and the continuation of its traditions. That history, always remember, is that of the American West centuries before Peter Skene Ogden, John C. Fremont, Kit Carson or any other white man would traverse the countryside that we currently claim as ours.
Powwow on, Warm Springs!
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