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Laid Back, But With a Lot of Thump: Calif. Redlands Pow Wow

Calif. Redlands Pow Wow: Laidback With a lot of Thump

More than 1,000 spectators and 200 dancers attended the 2nd Annual University of Redlands Pow Wow, March 28-29, in Redlands, Calif. Although the event saw a slight upswing in dancers this year, the change of location and unseasonably high temperatures pushed attendance down.

“I’ve never been here, and I really just wanted to check it out,” pow wow trail veteran Kenny Donaghey said. He’d heard about the upstart from fellow competitors last year and was fascinated by the idea of dancing on grass instead of the normal dust and sand he’s used to in Southwest pow wows. “It’s a little bit hotter than I thought it would be, but it’s still pretty laid back and the sound system is pretty good.”

Diego James Robles

Dancers march their way into the powwow circle inside the amphitheater during the 2nd Annual University of Redlands Pow Wow.

Cristina Gilbert, originally from Mexico City, just happened to be on campus for a multicultural celebration when she learned there was some sort of “Indian festival” just across campus and over the hill. She was one of the few people walking through the Native vendors behind the university’s amphitheater and designated pow wow circle. The dancing reminded her of the Aztec dancers from her native Mexico and it brought her a sense of calm. “In this happy and peaceful day, I wish there could be peace in Mexico and on Earth,” she said.

If the crowds won’t come to you, then you go to the crowds – that was the sales philosophy Wilma Purley, Laguna Pueblo, utilized to sell her baked goods. “I only brought 19 loafs and 35 pies and we barely have any left,” Purley said while she and her husband sold one more loaf and two more pies. “People like them because they are made with red chili from New Mexico and the bread is made in an outside oven.”

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Calvin “Kelly” Grant, Omaha, came out to be part of a good cause. “I enjoy that our youth acknowledge and recognize the tradition, the pageantry and the honor; all the things that go along with a pow wow celebration.” Grant didn’t dance at the intertribal this year because he figured the temperature was 10-15 degrees hotter than the year before. But perhaps his support will help students like Raquel Anakalea.

Anakalea, 19, did her part to help the pow wow. The Bishop Paiute/Shoshone student majoring in ethnic studies with an emphasis on Native psychology was guarding the parking lot. “The pow wow is pretty good, I think,” Anakalea said even though she had an obstructed view of the celebration from her seat.

Diego james Robles

A northern traditional dancer performs during competition, on Saturday afternoon, at the 2nd Annual University of Redlands Pow Wow.

The Native Student Programs, along with the Native American Resource Center (part of the Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health), put on the pow wow to bring diversity and awareness to the university and community at large. “We have a very small Native population here on campus,” said Anakalea who is a member of both organizations. “A lot of people don’t know Native Americans still exist, so it’s cool to bring them here.”

Correction: Earlier ICTMN reported that the Native American Student Union was one of the organizers of the pow wow, but it was organized by the Native Student Programs and the Native American Resource Center.