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Daughters of The Pioneers


October 10, 2019

POMEROY—Fifteen members and guests of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington met on September 23 at the Senior Center for the first meeting following the summer hiatus.

Cowlitz tribal member Dan Cottonware presented a very interesting program on Native American rituals, including traditional Native American commitment, Naming, Landing and First Fish ceremonies. He demonstrated to the group the use of a traditional cedar-wrapped shaker, as well as his round personal drum, which is covered with elk skin with a medicine pouch tied to the back. Personal drums, he explained, are smaller and made for one person to use, whereas the much-larger tribal or grandfather drums are played by several people.

local resident Cathy Robbins and Cottonware were previously married and they have a son together. Years later they reconnected and celebrated with the traditional commitment ceremony, presided over by their now-grown son.

Adopted as a child, Cottonware chronicled the search for his Native American roots as he grew older and said his tribal name is “Eagle One Feather.” He is now his family’s eldest member, and is involved with the naming ceremonies of others. He related how his brother Dave received the tribal name of “Paddling Wolf”, and a cousin will be “Two Salmon.”

Cottonware described his canoe journey down the Columbia River to a large gathering at Castle Rock, where tribes ranging from Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, and the east coast to as far away as Australia and New Zealand were represented. Canoe journeys were originally made as trading opportunities for various tribes. The group from Hawaii brought a six-man canoe to the ceremony rather than the traditional 100-foot outrigger style that can carry 200 men.

The Cowlitz tribal canoe holds thirty people. Some tribes have original cedar-strip canoes, and the Nez Perce use a dugout. Dugouts are made from logs, and Cottonware explained the careful “chip, burn and repeat as needed” procedure used to create one.

The First Fish ceremony celebrates the return of the salmon to the river, and the first one caught is dedicated in a ceremony of appreciation. During a recent celebration, he said two eagles landed in a nearby tree as the ritual began and flew off when it ended. He suggested it was their ancestors watching over them to make sure it was done correctly.

When tribes arrive for the Landing ceremony at Quinalt, they call out three times to the people on the riverbank, and receive a reply that is also repeated three times. Upon arrival, the men must carry their canoes up a steep incline to the longhouse at the top, which can require quite an effort depending on the size of the canoe.

Following the program, the group held a brief business meeting and asked the question, “What did you do over the summer?” which prompted some humorous responses. The next meeting will be on Monday, October 21, 2019.


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