13-14-15 July, 2018
A small group of Chewelah area residents joined together in 1974 to assist “Rainbow“ Emily Touraine, a nationally recognized artist specializing in Native American themes, bring to Chewelah a display of Native American relics, artand ceremonial costumes. Ms.Touraine‘s father, PhilipTouraine, was at that time the curator of the Scottsdale, Arizona Museum, and provided many priceless exhibits. The event generated considerable interest andparticipation by local tribal members and non Indianartists in the area.
The nation was gearing up for the celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976. The Chewelah group which had formed in 1974 decided to incorporate as a non–profit organization and develop a Bicentennial celebrationfor southern Stevens County.
The name Community Celebrations was chosen and in 1975 the organization filed Articles of Incorporationwith the Washington Secretary of State. Community Celebrations also filed for non–profit status with the Department of Internal Revenue and received the IRS 501–C3 designation late in 1975.
In 1975, Community Celebrations organized Bison–tennial I as a celebration of the nation‘s 200th birthday,which would be officially recognized in 1976. Bison–tennial I was a modest success but served as a forerunner of things to come. Bison–tennial II in 1976 was a much larger event which laid out the format which has been carried forward for 40 years.
Following the Bison–tennials, Community Celebrations marked the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the chartering of the Chewelah post office, which also gave the town an official name and spelling of the name for the first time. The Chewelah Centennial was celebrated in 1977.
Chewelah is an Indian word which roughly translates into “little water snakes“. The Indians applied the name to an artesian spring which formed a pond in the general area of the old magnesite plant site. The swirling waters were said to give the impression of many small snakes swimming – hence the nameChewelah. The valley floor was mostly a swamp, and in early spring, the water was deep enough to permit boat traffic to and from the village of Chewelah from the Cottonwood Road area. Small water snakes were also abundant in the valley, which the Indians called “land of little water snakes“, also similar to Chewelah.
In 1978, the name Chataqua was selected for the annual summer celebration. The name was suggested by one of the members who noted that the format most closely resembled the historic “Chautauqua“, the most popular outdoor entertainment in the United States at the turn of the century and lasting until the 1920s. Community Celebrations simplified the spelling to make pronounciation easier and to keep the Chewelah Chataqua distanced from the Chatauqua Society which is still in existence at Lake Chautauqua, New York.
Chautauqua (Chataqua)is an Indian word from tribes, possibly Seneca, in upstate New York, given to a lake. The translations vary, but most agree that the closest is “meeting place in the mist” with reference to tribal gatherings along the lake shore.
The Chautauqua Society formed in the late 1890s and was dedicated to encouraging cultural andeducational enrichment for adults. It became hugely popular and eventually Chautauqua took to the road with tents and performers. The Chautauqua Circuit covered rural America bringing entertainment andinformation to small towns and villages starved for contact with professional actors, performers, musiciansand speakers.
In many respects, Chataqua sought to fill a similar need in the rural reaches of Stevens County. Community Celebrations stated goals were to develop, produce, promote and coordinate educational, cultural and recreational activities. A secondary goal was to provide a performing arts facility.