Over a Century of Moving to the Drum: Salish Indian Celebrations on the Flathead Indian Reservation

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A Salish teacher and spiritual advisor shares what the elders taught him about the early Salish Indian celebrations.

To read Over a Century of Moving to the Drum is to be immersed in this celebration on the Flathead Indian Reservation:  to see the whooshing of feathers, to feel the earth beneath the dancers’ feet, to hear the drum beat. Over a Century of Moving to the Drum also serves as an invaluable reference for understanding the powwow tradition, the various and diverse types of dances, and its traditional role in great detail.

The Fourth of July Celebration at the reservation in Arlee, Montana has evolved and grown for over a century. Also called a powwow or war dance, the Salish Indian Celebration is an expression of Salish community and hospitality.

In this book, Johnny Arlee, a Salish teacher and spiritual advisor, shares what the elders taught him about the early Salish Indian celebrations at Arlee. He also discusses the changes he remembers and explains the importance of the Arlee Celebration to the Salish Indian people. One of the most powerful sections of this book is the interviews with Salish elders and young people about their memories of the Celebration.

Rex C. Haight, an amateur photographer from Missoula, Montana, takes us on a photographic tour of the Arlee Fourth of July Celebration of about the year 1940.

When the author interviewed Dolly Linsebigler, on the Arlee Powwow Committee since 1976, she explained the importance of the powwow in this way:  “What I would like to see is for our young people, our kids, our Salish people to remember that their dancing is important not only because it is enjoyable, but because it helps them have pride in who they are. You should not forget your own culture, your own tradition. The young people will have to carry this on.”

This book, too, helps the powwow tradition carry on.



Author: Johnny Arlee,

Illustrations: Color illustrations by Rex C. Haight

Binding Availability: Paperback

Published: 1998

Tribes/Ethnic Groups: Salish