NATIVE AMERICAN WORLD: Wiconi hosts fifth annual Family Camp and Powwow Bringing hope and healing in a broken world
By Jim Uttley
TURNER, OREGON (ANS) -- For the fifth year in a row, hundreds gathered in Turner, Oregon, July 30 to August 2, to celebrate the Jesus Way and share in the traditions and heritage of being Native people. Wiconi International's Living Waters Family Powwow and Family Camp had over 230registered for camp and over 400 attending the Mini Wiconi Traditional Powwow at the Aldersgate Conference Center.
Again over 120 children and youth were involved in special activities directed by Corey and Gina Greaves of Mending Wings. Rob & Debbie Schwartz who work with The Navigators, led a large group of volunteers from Lighthouse, a church in Seattle, WA. This group has generously served Wiconi campers for the past four years. This year as last, there was no specific roster of speakers and entertainers. "We didn't plan a speaking schedule with invited guest speakers or musicians," stated Richard Twiss, President of Wiconi International. "Each morning, our camp staff met to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to direct the gatherings. Then we asked several individuals to share a testimony or a Bible devotional from their heart."
Pastor Vincent Yellow Old Woman (Blackfeet) spoke and shared from his heart as to how God has used him to bless others by serving at powwows. Yellow Old Woman has served as Master of Ceremonies for numerous powwows throughout the Northwest. A Native of Alberta, Vincent has travelled and ministered in conferences and powwows both in Canada and the United States.
Pastor Randy Woodley, Keetoowah Cherokee Indian, also spoke and led a "Talking Circle" as well as sharing the hosting responsibilities for the Saturday powwow. Woodley teaches at George Fox Seminary in Newburgh, Oregon and together with his wife, Edith, are founders and directors of Eagle's Wings Ministry. Randy and Edith shared how throughout their journey they have sought to teach and encourage Native Christians to be all they were intended to be in God's image as Native people. Woodley is the author of LIVING IN COLOR (Inter-Varsity Press) and WHEN GOING TO CHURCH IS SIN (Healing the Land).
"We were very blessed again to have Pastor Paul Otoko and his Micronesian friends and family who shared their traditional dances and songs," stated Twiss. Again this year, Otoko and his friends blessed the Camp and Powwow attendees with a Polynesian luau complete with fire-pit roasted pork and all the trimmings. Otoko is Director of the Indigenous Stewards International (ISI) and is on staff at the Center for World Missions and the William Carey University in Pasadena, California.
Jerry Chapman and Cheryl Bear Barnetsen and her family led worship at the main sessions.
This year's Talent Night was filled with songs, dancing, hand-drum songs, little girls dancing, Polynesians doing the Hakka as well as Vincent Yellow Old Woman giving instruction on how to do the Round Dance. Almost everyone attending Friday's event participated in the dance. There were heaps of fun and laughter!
"Serving Jesus and finding His healing for our lives, families and communities in the context of our cultural ways is the hope and goal of every Living Waters Gathering," states Twiss.
At the powwow there were dozens of dancers along with nine drums. “It is always great seeing old friends and reconnecting in the circle as we dance our prayers,” says Twiss.
"We want to give a special thanks to all who provided finances in order that Wiconi could offer financial scholarships to enable several Native families to attend this year," said Twiss. "As in other years, several young people said our family camp is the one event they look forward to attending more than anything else each summer."
Wiconi is also grateful for the dedicated hard work of Jane and Gary Foster, Gary and Mary Ann Eastty, and Jodi and Jacob Trevizo.
Photo credits: David Uttley