Saturday, over 70 inmates and 65 prison visitors came together for the Two Rivers Correctional Institution 2nd annual powwow. They were welcomed with a ceremony at the prison 2nd annual powwow for family and friends.
Prison Visitors Greeted with Cleansing Ceremony at Two Rivers’ 2nd Annual Powwow
The inmates visitors were greeted by prisoner Rick Weaver, and inmate at Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) in Umatilla, Oregon.
He welcomed them with a ceremony, which included bathing them in fragrant, balmy smoke. It was made by using a small shell bowl to burn sweet grass and dried sage. This particular ceremony is referred to as smudging. It’s an American Indian custom, which removes negative spirits and energy while purifying the body.
Weaver says he has affiliations with both Lakota and Cherokee Nation people. He waft the smoke on each and every person, from head to toe, using an eagle feather.
Who Attended the 2nd Annual Powwow at Two Rivers?
The 2nd annual powwow at Two Rivers was attended by 70 prisoners and 65 of their prison visitors. It featured:
- Traditional drumming
Red Lodge Transition Services organized the prison family and friends event. This Oregon City-based nonprofit organization helps American Indians reintegrate themselves back into society after being released from prisons.
White Eagle, Weaver’s nickname, is currently in TRCI serving a 25-year sentence. He was convicted of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of robbery. He will not be released from prison before 2035.
In the meantime, inmate Rick Weaver is trying to become a reformed man. It’s his goal to become a positive influence among TRCI’s American Indian population. He says this 2nd annual powwow gives prisoners a way to heal:
“Having a powwow every year is special, to bring us all together,” he said. “It helps with our rehabilitation, completely.”
Prison Visitors Greeted by TRCI Inmates with Unified Rhythm
TRCI’s inmates gave their prison visitors a grand entrance. They all lined up and stepped inside to the beat of a pulsing drum in unified rhythm. Some were geared up in full regalia. Other prisoners came in sporting their blue shorts and T-shirts, issued by TRCI.
Trish Jordan is the Red Lodge Transition Services and a Creek Tribe from Oklahoma member. She’s spent the last 17 years of her life volunteering religious services for the Oregon Department of Corrections. Saturday morning, she and other volunteers prepared lunch for the 2nd annual powwow at TRCI.
The inmates and their prison visitors were served salmon, huckleberries, venison and fry bread.
The powwow is a celebration of life, Jordan said, and offers a chance for American Indian prisoners to reunite with their families and reconnect with their culture.