Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 12, 2003 - Issue 91


pictograph divider


Pow Wow Revives Native Culture on Reservation

by Rebecca JamesCourieThe Californian
credits: David Carlson NC Times Staff Photographer

Little  Girl DancingTEMECULA ---- The foothills of the Pechanga Reservation came alive with tradition and culture this weekend as Native Americans celebrated their ancestry during a three-day pow wow.

Tribes from throughout the United States gathered on the grassy arena behind the Pechanga Resort & Casino to celebrate the eighth annual Pechanga Inter-Tribal Pow Wow from Friday through today.

Saturday's festivities began with more than 30 Native American veterans dancing the traditional Gourd or Tiahpiah Dance.

"Originally it was a war dance," said Norman Pico, event coordinator and Pechanga tribal gaming commissioner for 10 years. "But, once on the reservation, we were forbidden to dance it."

With a fan of eagle feathers in one hand and a gourd rattle in the other, men kept cadence with the drum beat, while lifting the feathers as if to ward off an attacker.

Pico said the use of eagle feathers was very significant.

"The eagle can fly higher than any bird and takes our prayers to God," he said, his gray hair secured in a braid that fell behind his back. "If a feather falls to the ground it has to be cleansed ---- too many fallen feathers is a bad sign for a pow wow."

Tom Phillips, from the Kiowa Tribe, said the Gourd Dance survived the years because elders taught each generation the meaning behind the dance. The red sash, for example, around their waist is reminiscent of warriors who would stake themselves to the ground with it and defend the land oftentimes until death, Phillips said.

"We wear the sash to draw upon their power and bravery," said Phillips, his leather pants cupping over his moccasins. "Today, we celebrate the Gourd Dance as part of the Sun Dance and to pay honor to warriors and veterans. They have taught us to have courage and take pride in our heritage, and not let any oppression get us down."

Pico said the pow wow was not a traditional celebration of the Native American, but slowly began to evolve as an opportunity to bring old friends together and make new ones as well.

Draped in a red-and-blue scarf that almost dwarfed her four-foot body, Kay White Cloud Garcia kept rhythm with the drums a respectful distance behind the men as they turned to the left, right and center ---- symbolic that one canít be too spiritual or too materialistic but must remain balanced.

"I just love dancing so much," she said, smiling and undaunted that she had just danced nonstop for one hour. "And this is a wonderful way to meet new friends."

From the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Garcia said she is the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to the five-generation White Cloud Singers who would compete later that day.

Titus Frenchman, a full-blooded Lenape ---- a tribe better known as the Delawares ---- explained each dance as it was performed. By noon, more than 300 Native Americans kept beat to the chanting and drums as they danced in a circle on the blessed ground of the arena.

"Dancing in a circle around the drums is like sending a prayer up," said Frenchman, nodding toward the colorful group. "Then it comes back down through the drums and back to the people."

Among those dancing was actor Wil Yazzie, featured in such movies as Steven Seagalís, "On Deadly Ground," the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and voice-over talent in the movie "Wind Talker," where he spoke Navajo.

"It was a lot cooler yesterday," he said, having shed his colorful headdress and sauntering through the vendors that flanked the performing arena. "But this is a great turn-out with so many people here."

Pico said he hoped the three-day pow wow gave people a better understanding of the Native Americans.

"Weíve all been through a lot and have kept a low profile for a long time," he said. "But our culture is very rich ---- and itís good for people to know that we're still here."

Temecula, CA Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!