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Arlee Powwow Celebrates WWII Vets, 'Rosies'

The last day of this year's Arlee powwow on the Flathead Reservation was dedicated to the tribes' oldest living veterans.

Stephen Lazar II, who goes by Buddy, was drafted out of boarding school in Polson, into the army, at age 18 in 1944.

"I don't think I was scared," he remembers, "I was curious (about) something new, getting off the reservation, away from home, away from mom and dad. Yeah, I liked it."

Buddy, who's now 91, served in Japan and the South Pacific. His son, also named Stephen, was very happy to see his dad's generation get some recognition.

"Dad is a veteran of World War Two, of which we heard a little while ago, there's only 10 left that are members of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes, so its quite an honor for us to be here," the younger Lazar said.

The tribes honored not only the men who fought in World War Two, but the women who helped win the war at home, too.

Anna Whiting Sorrell, an organizer of this year's Arlee celebration, read the names of 15 Rosie the Riveters the tribes have identified in their membership. Rosies are women who went to work in the shipyards and munitions factories when so many American men were off at war in the 1940s.

The women who made it to the celebration were given blankets and beaded eagle feathers.

Ceremonies honoring long-lived elders can sometimes make people remember those who didn't live as long. Stephen Lazar says the ceremonies reinforce the tribes' strength in togetherness.

 "We salve those wounds, and we have a profound sense that we'll all be together again," he said.