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San Pasqual pow wow begins Friday
WHAT: 33rd annual San Pasqual Valley Unified School District Pow Wow
WHEN: Friday-Sunday (Grand entry is at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, all Arizona time)
WHERE: San Pasqual School football field, 676 Baseline Road, Winterhaven
TICKETS: $7 adult; $4 juniors (11-17); free for kids 10 and under; $10 for a weekend pass.
Hundreds of people come every spring to Winterhaven from all around Indian Country: men and women, babies and great-grandmothers, Navajo, Paiute, Sioux, Quechan or any combination of dozens of other tribes across the United States and Canada. They are here to sing, dance, celebrate and reminisce.
They're here for the pow wow.
The 33rd San Pasqual Valley Unified School District Pow Wow, put on by the high school's Strong Hearts Native Society, begins Friday evening and runs through Sunday. Spectators are welcome.
A pow wow is like a family reunion for Faron Owl, Strong Hearts advisor and a teacher and coach at San Pasqual High. Loved ones and friends from all around, and Quechan who have left the reservation, converge for the springtime renewal and ceremony.
“That idea of reconnecting with your relatives, that's really important,” Owl said.
Last year, the pow wow drew seven drum groups and more than 200 dancers. This year's drum groups are well-known so that could be a draw, Owl said.
The pow wow is a benefit for Strong Hearts, and Owl's students are integral in organizing the event all the way down to T-shirt design. The youngsters learn business principles as well as honored traditions.
Pow wows preserve and display culture, showing how long-steeped traditions live, Owl said.
Dancers can practice a variety of dances including but not limited to the gourd, grass, fancy and jingle dance. Not only are the rhythmic movements engrossing swirls of color, form and even sound, they can carry a message that modern young Natives would do well to hear. The men's traditional dance, for example, began when the men would come home to the village and “dance out” the story of a battle or hunters tracking prey.
“There's a story that follows that,” Owl said. “There's a little bit of history that follows that.”
The pow wow isn't just educational for the students. Because of the diversity in the Yuma area that surrounds the Quechan reservation, the pow wow is a learning experience for spectators.
The weekend starts Friday evening with a program that will feature the styles of dance practiced by the peoples of the Colorado River, the Quechan among them. Saturday and Sunday are full days of dancing and artistry, starting at 10 a.m. both days with gourd dancing.
Attendees can also peruse arts and crafts to include weaving, basketry, jewelry and kachinas and eat their fill of fry bread.
Owl said his students are especially looking forward to the traditional foods like stew and fry bread, since healthy-eating initiatives mean those rich, familiar meals aren't sold at school.
The pow wow is sponsored in part by the Quechan Nation.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.