The Tamkaliks Celebration will observe its 13th year next weekend, July 18-20, at Wallowa with a mix of dancing, feasting and socializing. The event is hosted by Nez Perce descendants of the Wallowa Band which once made its home in the Wallowas, along with current Wallowa County residents.
A workday is being held starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Tamkaliks site, located just outside Wallowa on Whiskey Creek Road. The site is on 360 acres owned by the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Interpretive Center Inc., a nonprofit coalition of local people, Nez Perce from three reservations and supporters from all over.
Last year about 30 volunteers showed up to cut hay, rake, stack bales, mow, use weed eaters, pound nails and otherwise get the grounds and dance arbor in shape for the big celebration. Everyone who has ever thought about contributing to the event is encouraged to join in.
At last year's workday Tamkaliks chairman Brian Conner of Pendleton reflected on the longevity of the celebration and the roots it is building in the Wallowa countryside. "Can you imagine if we are still here at 20 years? I can't imagine what we will look like at 50 years," he said. Conner said that as far as he knows Tamkaliks is the largest event of its kind where two cultures work together to create a celebration.
New to the Tamkaliks Celebration in 2003 will be a drum contest among the Native American drum groups who add native songs and drumbeat to the event each year.
A Homecoming on Horseback procession will be held about 9:30 a.m. Friday. July 18, to open the event and welcome participants and guests. For the first time a horseback procession is also being planned at the same time Saturday morning to allow more native horsemen to participate.
Memorials and naming ceremonies will be held Friday and Saturday mornings next week, with the grand entries to traditional and contest dance sessions scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and about 1:30 p.m. Sunday following the friendship feast.
The friendship feast gets underway at 11 a.m. Sunday and will feature salmon, game meat and buffalo, supplemented with potluck-style salads, side dishes and desserts. Everyone is always urged to bring large portions, as up to 600 people have been served at the popular event.
Newly completed this year is the trail to the top of Tick hill overlooking the Tamkalik site. It now forms a complete loop, and visitors are invited to hike the trail for a spectacular overlook of Wallowa.
By the end of the summer boulders on the site will be placed at strategic places on the bottom land with interpretive informaton attached, part of a U.S.D.A. grant awarded to the coalition.
Tepee and tent camping is available at no charge during Tamkaliks, though registration is required. Call the Nez Perce Interpretive Center office in Wallowa, 886- 3101 or Dreema Lotz, 886-8029, to pre-register. There is no alcohol allowed on the Tamkaliks site. There is also RV camping available for a fee at the neighboring Wallowa River RV Park; call 886-7002.
During Tamkaliks weekend Wallowa residents contribute to the fun of the occasion by staging a city-wide yard sale, and that event will be continued this year.