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home : education : schools July 27, 2015

4/15/2014 1:19:00 PM
Wilson Wewa to speak at high school
Wilson Wewa will speak to high school students. The general public is welcome to attend. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Wilson Wewa will speak to high school students. The general public is welcome to attend. photo provided

When he speaks, he holds the audience in his hands, spellbound by his stories, his knowledge and his passion for his native culture.

A descendant of the 1850s' Chief Paulina, Wilson Wewa, a Northern Paiute/Palouse, is well known throughout the Northwest and the Great Basin as a spiritual leader and keeper of traditional culture.

Wewa will share his well-loved stores with Sisters Country high school students and the general public at a presentation Wednesday, April 23, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the lecture room at Sisters High School.

This program is sponsored by the Sisters County Historical Society and paid for, in part, by a grant from the City of Sisters.

Wewa's apprenticeship began when he was 14 years old. It was during that time that elders recognized his potential as a student of the Washat; the faith acknowledged by the majority of plateau tribes along the Columbia River. Today, he travels extensively to conduct funerals, memorials, naming ceremonies and other traditional gatherings, as well as speak to groups interested in Plateau and Great Basin tribal cultures.

Wilson's grandmother had a big influence on his spirituality. The two spent countless hours traveling throughout the Northwest, listening to stories of healing, singing and ceremony by the Northern Paiute people. During his stint as the executive director of the Pyramid Lake Cultural Center in Nixon, Nevada, Wewa learned to speak the language of his father.

For many years, Wewa sang the songs of the Great Basin at Nevada Day celebrations and the Pine Nut Festival at Shurz, Nevada.

He is the last Northern Paiute leader to continue to sing the burial songs of his people.

Although he is not officially an elder, many people recognize his leadership and cultural awareness and are quick to acknowledge him at gatherings.

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