A pair of Haskell students will get married in a traditional Crow ceremony prior to the school's annual graduation powwow.
They will marry were they met -- at a powwow.
As Haskell Indian Nations University graduation powwow kicks off tonight, the head man dancer, Mickey Escamea, will lead dancers. Saturday morning, before a parade that is being held in conjunction with the powwow, he will marry fellow student, Crystal Abloogalook.
Abloogalook, 27, and Escamea, 31, met at a powwow in California two years ago. They will be married in the gazebo on Haskell's campus, just before thousands of people show up to attend the powwow.
The two wanted a traditional, not conventional, wedding. The Haskell students will be married in a Crow ceremony, wearing their dance finery.
``We wanted to do it the traditional way,'' Abloogalook said. ``It was more important to us than getting a marriage license. To us, in our hearts, this is a lot more meaningful. ... It doesn't stop when we get divorced or when we die. Our souls will be married forever.''
They sat side by side in their wedding outfits Wednesday afternoon in the gazebo. Escamea wore fiery orange, red and yellow fancy-dance finery, the same outfit he will dance in as the head man dancer of the powwow. Abloogalook's icy blue satin jingle dress was covered in silver coins that chimed as she moved.
Maybe they will get a license later, Abloogalook said. They still have a semester until they graduate, and it isn't as important to them.
While Abloogalook is Hopi and Inupiaq, and Escamea is from the Oneida tribe, their ceremony will be a Crow rite, from a tribe in between, at a place in the middle. Escamea is from Oneida, Wis., and Abloogalook is from Kykotsmovi, Ariz.
They are expecting 40 relatives and friends for the wedding.
``We decided to get married here so (Haskell students) all can see the way that healthy Indians can live their lives,'' Escamea said. ``All they have to do is wait for the right person and they will create a blessing.''
Escamea said that a return to traditional ways has helped him take control of his life. Now, he studies his tribe's lifestyle and his own spirituality.
``I haven't been doing this all my life,'' he said. Escamea said that he was having problems with alcohol when he was a teen. His mother took him to a sweatlodge ceremony. He began to sober up and learn more about his tribal heritage. Now he dances.
``This is the first time I've ever been married. I'm not sure what to look forward to,'' Escamea said. The couple plans to ask the guest singers to sing at the big drum; to sing an honor song. They will ask guests to dance with them to bless their relationship. Escamea said he wants to have a Robin dance, an Iroquois dance, as well.
The powwow committee is trying to keep the powwow very traditional this year, too.
``That's what's unique about Indian people,'' said Franda Flyingman, a co-chair of the powwow committee. ``...They've tried to maintain their traditions for as long as is possible in this fast-paced world.''
Powwow committee members have made a push this year to respect tradition. They feel that though forms are passed from generation to generation, meaning is being lost.
The Kiowa Gourd Clan of Oklahoma will come to the powwow to the gourd dance. The dance, done by many tribes, originates with the Kiowa. The clan was invited to make sure the meaning of the dance is not lost, Flyingman said.
The powwow starts at 7 p.m. tonight at Haskell Stadium with the grand entry. There will be performances by Apache Crown Dancers and hoop dancers, dance competitions, art and crafts vendors and food. On Saturday, the powwow parade will begin at 10 a.m. downtown. Grand entry will be at noon at the stadium, and dance competitions, the Miss Haskell coronation, the gourd dance and performances lasting into the evening. On Sunday, the final dance competition and awards begin at 1 p.m.
Admission is $5 a day or $12 for the weekend; children 7 to 12 years old are $3 a day. Children 6 years old and younger are free.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.