is a greeting of hello- this new day, in the original American
language of these shores. The Kumeyaay Ehwa, summer shelter habitat,
on the sand of Pacific Beach this Sunday July 13, 2003 marked
the passage of time. Time as we regard it in our everyday functions
of life. Time could also be regarded as the continuing overlapping
human experiences much as the waves unendingly pounding the sands
of the Pacific Beach shore.
The Ehwa is a summer
home and can symbolize a historic time and sundial of the day and
the events. Just as these observations are reflections of the experiences
presented at the Grunion festival. Organized by Abel Silvas: Native
American/Californio, whose ancestry comes from the Juaneno Band
of Mission Indians of the Acjachemen Nation and is a direct descendant
from the Silvas Family, one of the first Spanish families to settle
in Southern California.
An actor, mime and
comedian, Abel studied mime under Marcel Marceau and appears in
comedy clubs as a stand-up comedian. He and Joyce Perry share the
logistics of the event thru Payomkawichum Kaamalm, the Western first
people of Earth Mother. Joyce is the Tribal Manager and Repatriation
Consultant. She is also involved with education as the President
of Payomkawichum Kaamalam, a non-profit educational organization.
This year the great people of the Viejas Tribal Council sponsor
the Grunion festival. Their support, water and continued encouragement
of the event are greatly appreciated!
Warm sun made the day flexible and time is soft. Drifting back and
looking forward. We are there and here from moment to moment. Swaying
like the seaweed, close to shore and sometimes on the shore. Sitting
in the sun as the cultural exhibits at the Grunion Festival. Barona
Museum and Kumeyaay basket weaving is being demonstrated, as there
are also cultural examples of the Calfornia tribal art on display.
Bugbee, Payoomkawichum (Luiseno) has a wide selection of cultural
art on display. Also,very popular is the children activities presentation
by Silvia, Berta, and Mindy, there are many wondrous clay creations
produced. Fish images were most realistic and fantasic.
The Grunion Festival
is free and great entertainment: Pacific Islander dancing open the
event. Bill Neal, regional and very popular Cherokee Flautist was
the first to put those haunting notes that touch the heart into
the air. Comedian, Drew Lacapa, Apache, follows him. We enjoyed
his fun view of tribal life and especially those directional
lips. Eduardo Garcia, Berta Villa-Exuse and Kim Emerson presented
the music of Vera Cruz: song, instrument and dance accompanied by
the dancing of the very versatile Abel Silvas. The spirited regional
folk song, La Bamba, was a great hit.
Jon Meza Cuero next
took the stage and brought the afternoon into sharp focus. Jon related
his background as a singer and native speaker of Kumeyaay. Jon Cuero
is a Master and lead singer of Nyemii- Wildcat song and has extensive
experience with many of the other styles of Tipai song. Through
his life experience and by circumstance and politics, he is a participant
observer of the dynamics at work defining the International traditional
song style in the Kumeyaay, Ipai, Tipai and extended territory.
As a teacher, Jon strongly emphasizes the need to learn the tune
first. He spoke in Tipai, Mexican/Spanish and English. He introduced
Evadisto Adams, Tipai and his students, Ben Nance and Roy Cook,
Jose Rivera entered
in character, portraying the life and times of Antonio Garra, Cupeno.
Garra was a Cupeno Indian who led the 1851 Indian tax revolt in
Southern California. Garra was also known as a fighter for Indian
rights such as due process in the American judicial system. Unfortunately
he was unfairly tried and killed for his brave efforts because he
was the leader of his people, like so many Indian leaders throughout
the country were. He did not receive due process in the American
"Many people say the California Indians are now extinct. When
you come to something like this, the Grunion Festival or the Earth
Renewal Dance, you start seeing that in reality, California Indians
have never disappeared, and that through the tenacity of the culture
they have made California today the hotbed for federal tribal recognition
nationally. There are more cases of pending federal tribal recognition
in California than any other state in the union."
Jose further stated,
"A lot of those cases were based out of the Determination Period
because they were previously recognized as sovereign people and
it just so happened that a lot of the problems the California Indians
have faced in contemporary times are because of John Warner. John
Warner was the first Senator of California. He led the California
Caucus to not ratify the 18 treaties signed in California. John
Warner was the one who put the Injunction of Secrecy over that failure
to ratify those 18 treaties for 50 years. So, Warner had quite a
bit to do with the situation of the California Indians even today.
It was because of the selfishness of Mr. Warner. He wanted the Hot
Springs, he wanted the village, Cupa and that is pretty much how
the California Indians were generally treated statewide."
Tipai sang the songs of Baja California in a solo presentation.
Tipai and basketweaver presented her unique interpretation of the
traditional Tipai songs from San Jose de la Zorra. Both are greatly
appreciated and very well received.
Robert Tree Cody,
Maricopa and Dakota, internationally known Native American flutist
emerged from the ocean refreshed and ready to once again dazzle
the audience with his gracious virtuosity and musicianship. He and
Hovia Edwards, Okanokan and Shoshone-Bannock sang a magnificent
selection of their new release Reflections. They presented traditional
songs and original compositions. All very delightful and moving,
especially their dueling flutes number.
The waves were loud
and crashing close by and the tide is moving in. The grunion will
be two days delayed this year. The dusk shadows and the rising full
moon indicate it is time for all of us to return to our Ehwas and
dream about the next Grunion Festival. Maybe we will see you there.
Mehan, thank you.