By Miriam Raftery
September 12, 2010 (Sycuan) – Tina Santiago, a member of the Conshatta tribe from Louisiana, weaves a basket of willow reeds while onlookers browse her wares at the Sycuan Pow-Wow in El Cajon. “It takes about 25 hours to make this basket,” she said of a finely-crafted, finished basket priced at $250.
Other vendors offered hand-made items to suit more modest budgets, such as malachite earrings for $10. I found a spectacular turquoise and purple gemstone necklace for $40, picked up unique gifts for family members, and also enjoyed watching dazzling dance competitions.
A Navajo Indian offered Kachinas, or spirit representations. Other vendors sold Native American hand-made flutes, music CDs, blankets, carvings, toys, moccasins and clothing.
A food court featured Indian fry bread as well as fry-bread tacos and whipped cream-topped strawberry shortcake served on—what else? – fry bread. Another booth offered island fare and barbecued meats, while yet another served up hand-made corn tortillas and barbecued corn on the cob.
Native American dancers, drummers, and bird singers from across the nation have been competing at the three day event, the 21st annual Sycuan Pow-Wow, which is free and open to the public through today.
Contestants vie for up to $125,000 in prize money. Participants include members of the Apache, Comanche, Cherokee, Chippewa Cree, Kumeyaay, Kiowa, Pawnee, Piute, Crow Creek Sioux, Yaqui and other tribes in traditional attire. Each dance has special symbolism, from the jingle dance (used in healing ceremonies with bell-adorned costumes) to gourd dances and fancy dances with elaborate steps.
The pow-wow grounds are located behind the Sycuan casino at 5459 Sycuan Road in El Cajon. For more information, visit http://www.powwows.com/gathering/images/flyers/1275002041_Sycuan_2010_Po....