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Tolowa cultural festival

Don James dances during Tolowa Dee-ni’ Day in 2013. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Don James dances during Tolowa Dee-ni’ Day in 2013. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Dee-ni’ Day offers games, crafts, fun run 

Smith River Rancheria invites the community to learn more about their culture on Saturday.

The ninth annual Dee-ni’ Day will feature a fun run, traditional sand bread and dip net-making demos, traditional speaking and a craft show. 

There will also be an indigenous works show, allowing people to submit Native American items such as drums, necklaces or basketry, said Amber Gensaw, who works in the rancheria’s Culture Department. 

“It’ll be like an art show,” she said. “There’s going to be men’s and women’s divisions and 18-and-below and adult (divisions). Everyone will receive four tickets and will get to vote for their favorite item.”

Dee-ni’ Day will also feature traditional stick games on the beach. Stick games involve two teams of three players each who work to move a “tossel” (two small sticks latched together with a piece of leather) to one end of the playing field. The game, often described as a blend of lacrosse and wrestling, allows players to use large sticks to block opponents from moving the tossel downfield.

Another highlight of Dee-ni’ Day, Gensaw said, is the sand bread demonstrations. 

“What we do is we start by digging a pit in the ground about 3 to 4 feet wide and about 2 feet deep and then we line that with river rocks and we gather about five or six buckets of smaller pebbles,” she said. “We dump them on top of the pit. The cook (will) start their fire super early in the morning and let it burn all day to heat the rocks.”

Gensaw said the bread is about the size of a tortilla, but denser. 

“Last time we did it we used acorns and flour,” she said. “This year we’re just going to do flour.”

Gensaw said the rancheria is still seeking vendors for the event and is still allowing registration for  a 5k fun run/walk on the beach.

Cash prize for the adult division includes $50 for first place, male and female, $25 for second place, male and female, and $10 for third place, male and female.

In the youth division, younger than 17 years, winners in first place will receive $50, second place will receive $25 and third place will receive $10.

Onsite registration is $20. Fees are waived for Smith River Rancheria tribal members.

Onsite registration for the fun run begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Community Center across from Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River. The other activities will take place on the beach below the community hall off of South Indian Road.

For more information, call Smith River Rancheria at 487-9255, ext. 1176.  

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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