25,000 Gather at Morongo to Celebrate Native American Traditions

More than 900 competitive dancers and 20 drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada joined with spectators to celebrate ancient songs and traditional dances of Native American tribes.

Morongo Indian Reservation – An estimated 25,000 spectators gathered to celebrate the time-honored cultural traditions of Native American dance, music and art at the 28th Annual Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow on Sept 21 - 23.

The annual three-day powwow, hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, included over 900 Native American dancers and 20 professional drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada.

Throughout the weekend, dancers wearing intricate, handcrafted regalia of leather, fine beadwork and brightly-colored feathers competed in a variety of events that displayed the diversity of Native American dance styles.

“The Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow provides us with the opportunity to celebrate and share our heritage, and to pass along traditions to future generations,” said Tribal Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. “It’s always a wonderful experience to welcome visitors to our reservation to learn about the richness and beauty of Native American culture.”

As one of the most popular powwows of the year, the Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow included dozens of booths selling authentic Native arts and crafts such as unique jewelry, fine beadwork, pottery, clothing, and basketry items. Native food vendors were also on hand selling homemade delicacies such as Indian tacos, tamales, and tasty Indian frybread.

The highlight of each day, the Grand Entry drew hundreds of dancers dressed in traditional regalia into the powwow arena against a backdrop of music from competitive drum groups and singers. The spectacular display of rhythm, music and motion transformed the arena as hundreds of men, women and children crowded the floor to dance. Dancers and drummers scored points with judges based on regalia, performance, and other categories.

The powwow also featured bird singing and peon games, which are the traditional songs and games of Morongo and other tribes in Southern California

The 28th Annual Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow was held at the Morongo Outdoor Pavilion, located beside the Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa.