Lummi Nation community members march down Lummi View Drive in a parade honoring the veterans of their tribe. // Photo by Kelly Pearce
By Megan Sokol
From June 22 to 24, Lummi Nation community members gathered to honor the tribe veterans at the 72nd Annual Lummi Stommish Water Festival.
Nooksack and Lummi tribes pitched up tents around the Lummi Stommish Grounds. The festival featured food vendors, a mini amusement park and Lummi traditions.
The Salish festival originated in 1946 to honor the 101 Lummi soldiers who had returned from World War II, according to the Lummi Stommish Water Festival event page.
JoAnn Lewis Hall has attended the festival ever since she was a little girl.
“This brings everybody together,” Hall said. “It’s good to come to a group gathering because we’ve been going to funeral after funeral and this kind of lifts everything up and we can holler.”
Hall comes from a fishing family, which is a noble profession within the Salish tribes. She is a great-granddaughter of Chief Henry Kwina and sister to Chief Sa-hun-kin, also known as Don Lewis.
Hall said her parents were sent to native boarding schools, where they were routinely abused until they gave up their cultural traditions. Now Hall is a matriarch of her large family and enjoys seeing her family members socialize.
Perry M. Adams sells watermelon slices for $2 a slice at a concession stand with his wife, Dianna. He is a Lummi veteran who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and his father served in World War II.
“[My father] landed in Omaha beach on D-Day,” Perry said. “They came back after the war, and two years after they came home they had their first Stommish water festival. Dad said they got the idea from a canoe race in Coupeville, which is near Whidbey Island.”
Perry has had numerous health problems resulting from his time in bomb carriers during his tour in Vietnam. Perry and Dianna decided to have a second wedding after his time in the hospital and are planning for their third. They like to joke that she’s his brain and he’s her heart.
The Lummi Nation is proud of its soldiers. Perry and Dianna explained that people have the misconception that natives are not as patriotic, but the Lummi and many other tribes show patriotism because they are protecting their homeland.
Perry said the festival was originally created to raise money to build an American Legion Post and support veterans.
“Of course, the community loved the idea and they wanted to welcome home the returning soldiers,” he said.