By Miriam Raftery
September 15, 2017 (El Cajon) – The 28th annual Sycuan Powwow was held last weekend at the Sycuan reservation, drawing tribal members from across the U.S. The grand procession and ensuing Native American dance competitions provided a panoramic vista of swirling colors and patterns, as participants clad in full regalia performed timeless steps to the accompaniment of pulsating drum rhythms.
Some dances tell stories, such as traditional men’s competitors with eagle feather bustles, simulating hunts or battles. Fancy dancers, are among the most eye-catching, with swift steps and brilliantly-hued clothing. Women compete in the shawl-dancing competition, a newer category, and jingle dancing, which has its origins in healing ceremonies.
Powwows are traditional gatherings that also bring families together each year for visits and to help keep alive ancient cultural traditions.
A highlight is the grand procession, typically held each evening around 7 p.m. and in the afternoons around 1 p.m. The procession is led by revered tribal elders or leaders, followed by all powwow participants.
The public is welcome to attend the powwows as spectators at the dancing and drumming competitions, and to shop at vendor booths for Native American wares ranging from carved gourds to hand-made Native American jewelry, pottery, and more.
You can also sample fry bread, a Native American dietary staple, as well as other foods and beverages.
This year’s powwow was held on a grass field instead of the traditional powwow grounds, due to construction underway for the new Sycuan hotel resort set to open in 2018.