March 26th: Annual Return of C’waam Ceremony

Lee-Snipes-(Captain-Sky
Lee Snipes (Captain Sky)

Held each year after the first big Fish-Blanket snow in March, in Chiloquin, Oregon. Each year the c’waam (also known as the Lost River Sucker) swims up the Sprague River to spawn. Snowflakes fall at this time of year heralding the c’waam’s return. The evening sky also reveals that the fish constellation, (three stars in line making “Orion’s Belt”), begins to appear on the southwestern horizon. Our traditions state that watchmen or swaso.llalalYampgis were placed along the riverbanks to see exactly when the fish would return. The head “shaman” would then give thanks for their return to the Indian people. The last known shaman to perform the ceremony was Lee Snipes – Captain Sky, perhaps in the early 30’s. Now, the Tribe has chosen individual Tribal members. along with our Tribal Elders and the Cultural and Heritage Department, to continuing this traditional ceremony. By continuing this ceremony the Klamath Tribes are ensuring the survival of both a species and our Tribal traditions.

c'waam
c’waam ceremony is held along the bank of the Sprague River in Chiloquin, Oregon

We celebrate each year with traditional dancing and drumming, a traditional feed, releasing of a pair of c’waam into the river, and other ceremonial practices. The c’waam are provided by the Tribes own aquatic research center. Everyone is Welcome! Exact date for the celebration is contingent upon mother nature.  March 26th is the date for 2016 in Chiloquin, Oregon.

For more information contact: Culture and Heritage Dept. at 1-800-524-9787 ext. 178 or ext. 140flyer1