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Date uncertain, but planning is under way
MEEKER — Details haven’t been finalized, but there will be another Smoking River Pow-wow next year.
The first Smoking River Powwow took place July 25 and 26 at Ute Park in Meeker.
“We are working out details and dates, and we are planning on having a powwow in 2009,” said Lynn Lockwood, one of the event’s organizers.
In fact, the powwow could be a yearly event.
“We enjoyed this year’s powwow and would love for it to become an annual event,” Lockwood said. “We’ll take our cues from the tribe as we move forward.”
The powwow represents an effort by the community of Meeker to reconcile with the Ute Indians, who were forcibly removed from the White River Valley area nearly 130 years ago and re-settled in the desert of Utah.
An estimated 600 people attended and 75 Ute dancers participated in the inaugural Smoking River Powwow. Representatives from both the town and the tribe have said they were pleased with the event.
During the course of the two-day powwow, leaders of the Utes said tribe members had been reluctant to return to the White River, because of lingering fears and feelings of resentment.
The powwow helped begin the healing process.
“After 129 years of exile from Meeker and bitter taste and fear, Meeker has become a place of good memory for our younger generation,” wrote Kerry Cesspooch for the Ute Bulletin. “The Smoking River Powwow has promised the Utes a safe place to return and promise for good things to come.”
The powwow was a homecoming for the Utes, whose ancestors lived in the White River Valley for generations.
Loya Arrum told the Ute Bulletin she hoped the powwow would pave the way for a new era in relations between the town and the tribe.
“Perhaps this can open the town of Meeker to other things, beyond just a few times a year,” she said. “Maybe we could start coming back all the time. Bringing kids to camp or hunt and harvest our traditional foods.”
L.D. Grove, owner of White River Inn, was glad to hear there would be another powwow next year.
“I thought it was real positive,” Grove said. “I heard a lot of good things. I would say we should definitely do it again.”
All 33 of the rooms at White River Inn were taken during the powwow, 26 of them by members of the Ute tribe.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves,” Grove said. “There was an incident where (some members of the tribe) had their per diem check stolen out of their van, but I don’t think they blamed Meeker or anything like that. I think, privately, some of the older (Ute) folks hold a grudge, and I don’t blame them. But the younger ones seemed to really enjoy themselves. I would say, overall, (the powwow) was very successful. I think the community really pulled together for them.”