Indian Village rises in preparation for Pendleton Round-Up

PENDLETON – At dawn on Sunday, September 12, at the assembly grounds of Pendleton, dozens of Pacific Northwest tribesmen descended on the Indian village to begin assembling teepees.

For many, including 65-year-old Odie Minthorn, the Indian Village Round-Up has been a tradition that has lasted for generations.

“My grandmother was here in 1910,” Minthorn said. “I’ve been doing this forever.”

Minthorn is a registered member of the Cayuse and Umatilla tribes and said his family has participated in the village since the founding days of The Round-Up. As Minthorn helped tie up the top of the four-post frame that supported his teepee, he noticed the mix of memories that accompany his return to the Indian village each year.

“I’m sad and I’m happy – my grandmother was right here,” he said, pointing to a nearby patch of grass where his family once raised their teepee.

Minthorn said he was happy to be back and loved the memories that came with raising teepees with his family members, but still felt a pang when he remembered which ones were not. more with him. Despite this, Minthorn said he believes it is important to keep the knowledge and practice of assembling a teepee alive.

For Francine Delorme, 69, a member of the Nez Perce tribe from Lapwai, Idaho, the importance of passing on her knowledge and reconnecting with family is what brings her back to the Round-Up every year.

Delorme and her children and grandchildren raised five tipis on Sunday morning, carefully taking the time to select their tipi poles and tie the tops.

“We used to bring our own tipi poles every year,” she said. “But it’s a lot of work to do them.”

Delorme said she and her late husband made 45 tipi poles several years ago and ended up leaving them in Round-Up with the intention of making more. She said her husband would go and cut lodgepole pines near their home on the Nez Perce reserve and that she and her daughters would spend several days getting them ready for use.

“You have to remove all the bark and smooth out all the knots,” she said. “It takes about two days to peel one – and then you have to let it dry. “

As Delorme gets older, she said she tries to pass the teepee assembly process on to her daughters and their children.

“I try to let my daughters do more,” she said. “They’ve been setting up teepees since I was 10, 11, 12, and my youngest is now 42.

Delorme is looking forward to spending the week in the Indian Village and seeing family from across the region, as well as the rodeo.

Before John Adams started competing in the Indian Village 50 years ago, he would pass his Pendleton Round-Ups across the grandstand, clinging to the top of the cattle looking for cash prizes for saddle horse, bull riding and the Indian Relay Race. .

“I’ve been around horses all my life, jockey and rodeo,” he said. “Eventually I got injured and quit rodeo.”

Now the 80-year-old Yakama tribe member joins his family in the Indian village every year and enjoys the Pendleton rally from a seat slightly further away from the action. Adams oversaw his family’s construction of five tipis in the village on Sunday morning, a place they will call home for next week.

“I was trying to help a while ago and they were all yelling at me,” he said.

Adams said he and his family packed the car and left the Yakima Valley on Saturday before arriving in Pendleton around 11 a.m. that evening. He said they spent the night in the parking lot of the Pendleton Convention Center while waiting for the loading time at 6 a.m. for the Indian village.

“At 6 am they come and they open the door,” he said. “It’s a big rush to unload so you can get ready for the week. “

–Ben Lonergan / Eastern Oregon

Christina A. Kroll

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