More than 300 dancers participate in Pala Pow Wow
The Pala Pow Wow last weekend brought together hundreds of tribes from all over the country for a colorful festival of native dancing and a celebration of the Indian way of life. Photo courtesy of Rez Radio
August 29, 2013The 6th annual Honoring Traditions Powwow in Pala occurred over the weekend. Three hundred and seventeen dancers from tribes all over the U.S. and Canada participated.
Eight drum groups provided the songs, and for the first time also competed against each other. This year's drum groups were Stoney Park, Wild Band of Comanches, Buc Wild, Blackstone, Young Bear, Meskwaki Nation, Southern Outlawz, and Wild Horse Canada. Stoney Park was the winner.
Arena Directors Cetan Thunderhawk from Bozeman and Juaquin Hamilton from Shawnee, Okla. along with emcees Ruben Littlehead from Montana and Dennis Bowen from Tuba City, Ariz. kept the pace moving in the more than 20 hours of competition.
A number of changes in the program made the powwow more exciting than in previous years. Number one was the competition for prizes among the drum groups. In the past they've simply been "host" drums. There's always a lot of pride doing a great performance, but putting prize money at stake gave it a little extra urgency.
There was also a way for the public (and especially competitors) to text what event they would like to see added to the lineup Sunday afternoon. The resulting women's competition drew a field so big that the winner had to be chosen from two groups of semifinalists.
The first-ever electronic tabulation kept things moving at a fast pace.
There were about 60 people in the bird-singing exhibition — more than ever before. Singers came from Mojave, Colorado River tribes, Morongo, Torres Martinez, and local San Diego County tribes. Wayne Nelson, leader of the Intertribal Birdsingers, organized this portion of the event.
The final competition yesterday was an arena director's special with Northern vs. Southern style. This was also a first for Pala. Southern won.
The grass arena looked great and made for a perfect natural dancing surface, according to one of the organizers.