Powwow celebrates regional Native American tribes

Powwow celebrates regional Native American tribes
The inter-tribal Powwow at Mission San Luis Rey will draw more than 200 dancers for two days of dance competition. Tribes from California, Nevada and New Mexico will participate. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The inter-tribal San Luis Rey Powwow at Mission San Luis Rey will draw more than 200 singers and dancers June 8 and June 9.Tribes from California, Nevada and New Mexico are expected to attend and participate in two days of dance competitions. Dances include the jingle dance, fancy shawl dance, buckskin dance and traditional dance.

Each dance is unique in its steps, the regalia dancers wear, and singing and drumming that accompany it.

“Boys do the double hoops fancy,” Carmen Mojado, of the San Luis Rey band of Luiseno Mission Indians, said. “The Napa Impala do the chicken dance. They strut like roosters.”

“The fancy dance is war dancers,” Steve Mojado, of the San Luis Rey band of Luiseno Mission Indians and leader of Dancing Cloud Singers, said. “They wear wonderful regalia. They dance faster and faster. It’s something to see.”

“Dance praises the creator,” he added.

Dancers start competing as soon as they can keep a beat.

Singers are invited to drum if they express interest and agree to perform drug and alcohol free. It is customary for new singers to offer tobacco to those in the singing and drumming group and explain why they want to join.

“They are prayers and honor songs,” Carmen Mojado said. “You can’t drink or do drugs. You can’t swear around drums.”

Singers must listen and learn songs, which are sung in different Native American languages.

“You need to learn the words and know what they mean,” Steve Mojado said.

Event participants and spectators say hearing the songs fills them with spirit.

“During the opening ceremony all dancers dance into the arena,” Carmen Mojado said. “It’s my favorite part. Even the little kids and the toddlers.”

“The music is the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” she added. “When I hear the first drum beat, I sigh.”

In addition to song and dance performances there will be a handmade craft fair and food booths featuring popular fry bread.

“There will be crafts coming from reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, all handmade,” Carmen Mojado said. “The Indian pan bread is very delicious. It’s a good way to spend the afternoon.”

Actor Saginaw Grant, who played Chief Big Bear in the 2013 “The Lone Ranger” film, will be at the powwow.

Wild Horse Singers and Hail and Company will perform and accompany dancers.

Powwow opening ceremonies will be held at 12:30 p.m. both days and again at 6:30 p.m. June 8.

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