|A young participant at the 2019 Cuyamaca College powwow|
Native American history and culture will be celebrated when tribes from throughout the West congregate at Cuyamaca College’s 6th Annual Powwow on Saturday, Feb. 1. Up to 2,500 people from throughout the region are expected to attend the free event that is open to the public.
The powwow begins at 9:30 a.m. with a traditional blessing, followed by the Ashaa Takook Bird Singers at 10 a.m., gourd dancing at 11 a.m. and Grand Entry at noon. The celebration continues until 8 p.m. and vendors will be selling Native American arts and crafts, fry bread and Indian tacos. Admission is free.
“The Cuyamaca College Powwow has been vital in dispelling any misconceptions or misinterpretations about Native American history and culture,” said Michael Ryan, president of the Cuyamaca College Native American Student Alliance that is sponsoring the event in partnership with the Student Affairs Office, Equity Engagement and the Associated Student Government. “We’re here to bring a better understanding about the culture and community in a setting that everyone can enjoy.”
Randy Edmonds, from the Kiowa and Caddo nations of Oklahoma, will serve as master of ceremonies. Victor Chavez, who was born on the Isleta Pueblo Reservation in El Paso, Texas, is the arena director. Among the numerous other participants are Nate Logan, head man; Sequoia Salas-Galvan; head woman; Ivan Sam, head gourd dancer; and Richard DeCrane, staff carrier. The Green River Singers comprise the Host Northern Drum and Hale & Co. from the Diné (Navajo) Nation is the Host Southern Drum.
Cuyamaca College has a long history of supporting Native-American students and Native-American studies. Its name comes from the Kumeyaay phrase “Ekwiiyemak” – which means “behind the clouds,” “above the rains,” and “the place where the rains come from the heavens” – and the campus sits on traditional Kumeyaay territory. In addition, Cuyamaca College became among the first community colleges in California to offer a degree program focusing on the language, culture, and history of a specific Native-American tribe when it unveiled its associate of arts degree program in Kumeyaay Studies in 2015.