Native dancers take part in the plains-style powwow dancing during the fifth annual Christmas Powwow from the Marysville School District's Indian Education Department on Dec. 15.


Native community members and others gathered for the fifth annual Christmas Powwow at the Marysville School District's Tulalip campus on Dec. 15.

The event from the Marysville School District's Indian Education Department and Tulalip Tribes Youth Services provides a way for local families and friends to get together before going on winter break.

"We wanted to have something for the kids and community right before we go on break. Some of the kids struggle with the break and they like to have the stability of school," said Terrance Sabbas, native liaison with the Marysville School District.

Sabbas said losing that structure can be hard on students if they're going through grief or other issues, "and if they're not, we still just want them to have a good time."

The event hosts a plains-style powwow with traditional Native dancing.

"Not the competition-style powwow so there's no competing for money, which gives people a chance to just come out and have fun," said Matt Remle, native liaison with the Marysville School District.

Families are also given a free dinner at the powwow.

"A lot of powwows you go to you might not see a free meal, so I like doing these type of things for the community and inviting neighbors to come out," said Remle.

The event partners with Toys for Tots to give all the children a free toy. Santa pictures and Native vendors were also available.

"It's our first time coming, but my daughter was so happy to come and it's pretty awesome," said local parent Melissa Gobin after her daughter picked a toy to get at the event.

A cakewalk with Native music is also held at the gymnasium of the campus.

"Even the older people will start running out to jump on the numbers and have a good time," said Remle.

Sabbas said many locals enjoy the powwow.

 "I like everyone feeling good and hearing the feedback that it's a lot of people's favorite powwow. For some of the people this may be the only one they go to, and I'm glad that they come here," he said.

"I like seeing all the families come out and all the smiles," said Remle.

The Christmas Powwow is a good combination of providing fun and sharing Native traditions, he said.

"We want to set a tone going into the holidays of families coming together and sharing a meal, having a good time, getting free presents and having culture on top of it," said Remle.

The annual event is for both Tribal members and non-Natives and school district staff often attend.

"We always want to make sure we're inclusive with our Native students but our non-Natives as well, and our department pushes for school staff to come because it really helps build those relationships with the kids," said Sabbas.

"And I like that non-Native people come here just to see our songs and enjoy some food," he said.

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