Indigenous peoples celebrate at Parkrose Fest

See how this year’s ‘Jim PepperFest 2019’ brought people together to celebrate, in outer East Portland …

At their new location on the Parkrose High School campus, the Jim PepperFest 2019 encampment is alive with music and dance.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Situated on high ground this year, visible and accessible from NE Shaver Street, Jim PepperFest 2019 took place on September 28.

The Native American village – complete with food, crafts, music, entertainment, and ceremonial drumming – attracted visitors from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Festival Director Sean Cruz keeps this year’s festival running smoothly.

“We’re so proud to be hosting our seventh festival; the energy behind this is, at its core, the music of Jim Pepper,” remarked Festival Director and Jim Pepper Native Arts Council President Sean Cruz.

“In this, we are celebrating Jim Pepper’s legacy; and, at the same time, we are raising awareness of how rich in Native talent this region truly is,” Cruz told East Portland News.

With drum in hand, performing her “Water Song” for children is Marie Knight.

Although Jim Pepper passed away at a young age, back in February of 1992, the Parkrose High School graduate left an enduring musical legacy Cruz observed. “There is very powerful medicine in Jim Pepper’s music; we are working to keep his memory alive.

“And, in the process of doing this, his music has led me to meet and work with all sorts of wonderful people and cultures, and to hear stories that I would’ve otherwise never encountered,” Cruz said.

One of the many Drum Circles playing at the festival is the “Native American New Nation Boys”, from Chemawa Indian School in Salem.

The festival welcomes everyone, from every culture, the organizer said. “It is a great for all people to encounter Native Americans in an open, friendly, and warm setting. This is important, because when people come into our friendly environment, they learn about each other – which results in both present appreciation, and future collaboration.

The mission of the Jim Pepper Native Arts Council, Cruz restated, is “To improve access to culturally-relevant music education, in Jim Pepper’s name.”

Stephanie Smith (Klamath and Ojibwe) shows a stunning handcrafted triple tier necklace on hide.

Cruz expressed gratitude to the core group of about a dozen volunteers who helped present the festival, as well as to the Parkrose School District for helping start the festival, and hosting it on the campus of Parkrose High School.

He thanked Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace for being the “Water Spirit Main Stage” sponsor, bringing in Portland Jazz Composers Ensembles to perform. Other sponsors included East Portland Action Plan; Historic Parkrose NPI; Metro; and OnPoint Community Credit Union.

Representing Portland State University was Miss Naimuma Royalty representative, as Ei-Shah S. Pirtle-Wright received food from Kateri Eaglestaff.

To learn more about Jim Pepper, and the organization that commemorates him throughout the year, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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