Makah Days festival celebrates culture

NEAH BAY — Today begins Makah Days, the 95th annual celebration of Makah culture.

The festival spans three days with canoe races, bone games, kids’ races, royalty, a salmon bake, traditional dancing, talent show, a multitude of vendors and a fireworks show.

Makah Days is a homecoming. Tribal members reunite with those who have moved away. The tribe welcomes everyone to join them as they celebrate with neighboring tribes from Washington and First Nations members from Vancouver Island in Canada. Some family members come from Vancouver Island because they are closely related to the Nuu-chah-nulth.

The annual celebration also commemorates thousands of years of the Makah ancient culture and the anniversary of becoming citizens of the United States.

This year, it also marks the 40th anniversary of the Makah Cultural and Research Center, which displays aritfacts form the ancient village of Ozette, and the 20th anniversary since the last sanctioned whale hunt.

The first American flag was raised in Neah Bay on Aug. 26, 1913, though it wasn’t until June 2, 1924, when all Native Americans were granted the right to vote, including the members of the Makah Tribe.

The tribe’s veterans have served in World War II, Vietnam and Korean Wars, and other major conflicts.

The annual celebration includes a multitude of activities which honor the Makahs’ ancient culture and traditions and commemorates its history.

All three days, the Makah will present a Street Fair, traditional canoe racing, a slahal tournament (a traditional gambling game played with bones) and a softball tournament.

Tonight and Saturday will be modern dance and youth field competitions.

Tonight only will be a talent show, the Makah Days royalty coronation and fireworks exploding over Makah Bay.

Saturday morning will be the Grand Parade and the flag-raising. Those will be followed by youth performing traditional dances and a traditional salmon bake.

Saturday evening will be more modern dance and adults performing traditional dances.

On Sunday morning will be the Bahokus Peak Challenge.

Sunday afternoon will be another salmon bake.

To get to Neah Bay, take state Highway 112 all the way west to its end.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/makah.days or makah.com/activities/makah-days.

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