Sisters share what it takes to become powwow royalty

Sisters share what it takes to become powwow royalty

Originally posted: 09/01/2023

Sisters Tala and Taiah Mitchell, who are members of the Puyallup Tribe, have been attending powwows since they were young. As children, they looked up to older girls who held powwow royalty titles and considered them role models within the community.

“Once I came into the powwow circle, I always admired the looks of the crowns and the way they set a good example for everybody,” said Tala.

Their cousins also ran for powwow royalty, further inspiring Tala and Taiah. “We were able to watch them and follow the example of what title they held,” said Taiah.

Each contestant is judged on four categories: raffle ticket sales, speech, dance, and participation. Afterward, they are evaluated on their performance by a panel of judges.

Both sisters actively participate in dance. Tala is a fancy shawl dancer and Taiah is a jingle dress dancer. They learned traditional song and dance by attending coastal jams and song and dance practice held by the Culture Department as children.

The sisters emphasized the importance of selling tickets for the Puyallup Labor Day Pow-wow “I’ve always thought of them as like points,” Taiah said. “The more you sell, the more points you get, the better chances of winning.”

It is a great responsibility to hold a royalty title. Those who hold it are expected to actively engage with their community and attend events, showcasing their titles and representing their Tribe.

Tala and Taiah mentioned that they will not be running in this weekend’s Labor Day Pow-wow − which is scheduled for today through Sunday, Sept. 1 to 3, at Chief Leschi Schools − as they want to give others a chance at the title. “I just believe that other people are going to have a good chance, and I have other ideas of different powwows that I want to run for,” said Taiah.

For this year’s Labor Day Pow-wow, Tala will crown new royalty. Crown holders for the Labor Day Pow-wow can retain their titles for up to two years, with an age restriction of 21 years old. Rules and regulations can vary between different powwows, however.

One of Tala’s favorite aspects of participating in powwows is “seeing the new royalty, also inviting them to your powwow and making new friends, lifetime friends,” she said.

For Taiah, she enjoys “seeing the sparkle in the little kids’ faces” at the events.