Redbird Powwow July 15-17 and 405 Freeway Closure
The Redbird Children of Many Colors Native American Powwow is fast approaching! And it coincides with the closure of a significant portion of the 405 freeway in the Sepulveda Pass area on July 16 and 17. Participants and visitors coming from areas north of the San Fernando Valley will not be affected by the closure. Those coming from all points south of the San Fernando Valley will; those coming from areas east and west of the San Fernando Valley will likely experience increased traffic on their normal routes. We want everyone to enjoy the powwow, so please plan an alternate route if the 405 is the way you would normally get to Moorpark.
Last week Alicia Doyle of the Ventura County Star interviewed me and several others about the powwow - what makes it unique, why powwows are important, and what Redbird is all about.
As we were doing this interview I realized that people may or may not know our philosophy on the Children of Many Colors Powwow - or for that matter that we actually have a philosophy, so I thought I would share the "raw" interview notes. This is by no means mandatory reading, but quite often, by the time an article gets into print it has been edited from several pages to several sentences, and much for the information it originally contained is lost.
Hi Corina: It's Alicia Doyle with the Ventura County Star. Thank you for the email about the Powwow at Moorpark College from July 15 through 17; we'd like to get a story in the paper ASAP. (My story will run prior to the event so folks can mark this on their calendars)
How do you spell your first and last name?
What city do you live in? Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center, Angeles National Forest, in the burn area of the Station Fire, above La Canada Flintridge
What is your role/title/involvement with the Powwow at Moorpark College? I do a large portion of the preparatory work, the things that go on behind the scenes so that when the powwow starts, people can come and have a good time, have clean restrooms, places to sit, happy vendors and non profit groups to visit, good food to eat, handicapped access...once the powwow begins, my job changes to making sure there's plenty of water, that food is available on time for the dinner break, that the generators have gasoline, that sort of thing. I turn the powwow itself over to the head staff; the arena director, master of ceremonies, the head man, head woman, young man and young woman dancers, the spiritual people and the head gourd dancer.
For folks/readers unfamiliar with this event: What makes this powwow so special/unique? From a Native American perspective, it has repeatedly been called a family powwow, which is a high compliment in my book. That means it's friendly, it feels good, it feels comfortable...for people who are a long way from their tribal lands, for the weekend of the powwow they can feel at home. For visitors, we strive to provide a friendly gathering without sacrificing the integrity of the powwow. We try to have friendly, helpful volunteers, vendors and head staff. We make every effort to help people learn about native culture in a non-threatening atmosphere. We try to remember what it's like to come to a gathering for the first time and not know anyone...it can be intimidating. As a group, we try to remember what that's like, and be accommodating.
Regarding the presenter of the event, Redbird, for folks/readers unfamiliar with this nonprofit: Please explain what this nonprofit is all about and its significance/importance: Redbird is a federally recognized non profit association promoting the awareness and celebration of indigenous cultures and people and creating a sustainable future. The Children of Many Colors Powwow is our largest annual event, in its eleventh year in 2011. We host an annual blanket, toy and school supplies drive on the first Saturday of December at the Simi Valley Library Community Room, and present the Forest Recovery Project, which illustrates the role of fire in the ecology of natural environments and the human relationship to fire, throughout southern California. We also participate in educational events throughout the year and as funding permits.
What are the event highlights? (what can attendees expect? please provide specifics)
Friday Evening, July 15 6PM - 10PM Open Flute Circle and Potluck Everyone Welcome All flute/wind instrument players welcome to participate; hosted by Harold and Francine Green, Malibu, California with special guest flutist Bill Neal
(Bill is an accomplished flutist who has played all over the country as well as other countries. He is very well loved and respected in the Native American community and has also served as a spiritual advisor. You can't friend him on Facebook because he already has 5000 friends. Harold and Francine Green are well known members of the Malibu community as well as the Native American community. They are among the original founders of the Chumash Days gathering in Malibu - harold is an accomplished flutist and Francine is of indigenous heritage - I can't remember what nation).
Saturday, July 16 11AM - 10PM Gourd Dance Ceremony and Native American Powwow All Day and Evening Everyone Welcome Prayer for the Children by Margaret Morin, Chumash Nation 2PM in the dance arena - all children (and their parents) welcome
The gourd dance is a ceremonial dance, originating with the Plains Indians' warrior societies. There are only a handful of people left who remember what all of the symbology and the songs mean; they recall specific battles and significant times in the history of tribes such as the Kiowa and Cheyenne. Today, most gourd dancers are Veterans, and those who have come into the arena properly have been sponsored by another Gourd dancer, who has taught them the songs and dancers and helped them make their regalia. The Veterans' Honoring on Sunday will be incorporated into the Gourd Dance ceremony. The drum is very powerful, and very healing, and we want people, especially Veterans, to "catch" that, to feel that healing power, and to honor them.
A powwow is an intertribal gathering, where Native American people from many tribes or nations come together to dance, sing, celebrate their cultural heritage and share that heritage with others.
The origin of the powwow as we know it today is generally attributed to the changes that occurred to the Native American way of life when reservations became the primary homeland of many nations. Forced into confinement, often with other tribes and on unfamiliar (and unproductive) territory, native people adapted what were previously tribal ceremonies into a form of song and dance that could be shared with people from other nations and, eventually, with non-Indian people.
Sunday July 17 11AM - 6PM VeteransÊ¼ Honoring 11 AM All Veterans Welcome Gourd Dance Ceremony and Native American Powwow All Day
Why is this annual powwow so important, especially in today's times?
Southern California holds the second highest population of multi-tribal Native American people in the United States. The "Termination Act" of the 1950s sought to end the reservation system by moving Indian people into major urban centers and assimilating them fully into mainstream society. Like previous attempts to "kill the Indian and save the man", the program was only partially successful in separating native people from their land, culture and heritage. It created a whole new segment of Native American society; people who were never truly assimilated, and were equally unable to fully maintain a connection to their cultural values, heritage and home.
The powwow is a vital link to that heritage, both physically and spiritually. It is a gathering where, for several days, native people can be themselves, find themselves, and be among like-minded people. It is a place where cultural practices; songs, dances, crafts, languages, stories and traditions, can be learned, practiced, taught, and thereby kept alive. A culture dies the moment it is no longer practiced. It is only through active participation that native people can maintain a living, vibrant, viable cultural connection.
The urban powwow serves a second vital function. It is a gateway for learning, understanding and tolerance for non-native people. What most Americans know about native cultures, the indigenous people of this land, is miniscule and usually inaccurate. That Native American cultures are still alive is often a surprise to those who visit a gathering. They sometimes ask if they are witnessing a reenactment; if the people dancing are really Indian, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, if they speak English.
What is the ultimate goal of this event? (what positive impact do you hope this will have?) Two goals - First, a happy, positive, supportive experience for Native American people. This is one of the ways the culture is kept alive, through action, participation, singing the songs and dancing the dances. These are the gatherings that bind us together as a community and teach our children what it means to be native. Second, but not necessarily less important - a good experience for our visitors. Native American people are generous, strong and compassionate. We love to laugh. We love to share. Ultimately, to catch a taste of that generosity of spirit would be good for everyone.
Please add anything else you'd like me to include:
Something new for this years' powwow - we will be having a public giveaway. Several people and groups have excess food items, clothing, baby clothes and other items. We will be putting these out on blankets, so that people who need them to take. You don't need to be Indian to participate. If you need something, and you see it there, it will be yours to take home. If you want to leave something there for someone else, that's fine too, but it is not obligatory. If there are items left over at the end of the gathering, they will be donated to One More Time second hand store on High Street in Moorpark.
Ventura County Star