On gloomy Saturday July 18 unusual weather for this time of the year our family went to Moorpark College in the town of Moorpark, California to experience an Indian Pow Wow. There were representatives from a at least a hundred tribes in the US and some beyond our borders.
When we arrived the exciting drumming and chanting made us run to find our viewing spot. We found this place surrounded by Indian families. They were in tribal costumes and waiting to be called to go up and dance with others from their tribe. The outfits were beautiful and the families, grandmas and their babies were dress for this occasion bedecked in feathers and beads.
I sat and listened to them talk and heard parents use words like respect used often, the children were well mannered and sweet. These were the same words I used with my two grandsons who can sometimes get a little rowdy, sit quietly and be respectful at this event. This is a very important for these Indian families and I’m glad to say they did, they were fascinated. An Indian mother sitting nearby heard me and smiled.
I asked the woman what the words of the songs were about she said they were mostly prayers . They spoke of their thankfulness for the land, the trees, having food, their families and prayers hoping for rain since California is in a very serious drought. She told me she was from the Navajo tribe her name was Amitola which means Rainbow, she was from Ventura California, with her was a Lenni-Lenape Indian from New Jersey with a porcupine quill head dress and a Mescalero Apache from New Mexico named Rick with a black and white painted face. He said his face painting was in the style of war paint, it certainly was dramatic and could be viewed as scary, kind of like the group Kiss. The Mescalero Apaches were great warriors remember Geronimo.
I spoke with Dino a Navajo who was 1/4 Italian, he was wearing a bone bead breast plate on his chest and had an eagle and hawk feather bustle on his backside . He said we couldn’t photograph him unless I spoke to his elder and of course his request was respected. When I remarked how beautiful the costumes were Amitola told me they were a treasures passed down by the families.
I asked about the animal skins, bone and feathers; she said the zoos contact the tribes if an animal or bird dies so they can use the animals parts for their costumes. She said they never hunt animals just for the sport of it.
Members of each tribe went into a large circle and began to dance and asked for rain. The sky became dark and threatening thunder and lightening appeared and moments later there was a heavy downpour, the first in a very long time.
We were all joyful and thankful for the rain that came we haven’t had a serious downpour in 5 years and certainly not in July. Personally I was amazed this happened, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, was the chanting and dancing so powerful, it certainly makes you wonder.
My little grandsons said grandma those are” Magic Words “ I smiled and shook my head in agreement, yes Magic Words.
The boys were soaked and chilled from the rain and we decided it was time to leave. When I went to say good bye to the people around me, the sweet Navajo lady, Amitola gave me a warm hug and Dino gave me a big smile.
When we got home my grandsons began to dance like a Maori warriors.
What a Great, gloomy, gray day. We were glad to have had the experience of this wonderful day at the pow wow and now also so glad to be back warm and dry in our cozy home.