Competitive dancers and drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada honored ancient songs and dances of Native American tribes.
Morongo Indian Reservation – The beauty and rich traditions of Native American dancing, art, and music were celebrated at the 30th Annual Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow, held over three days beginning on Friday, Sept. 24.
To mark its 30th anniversary, the annual powwow hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians was held outdoors under a large, open-sided tent set above a packed field that had served as the powwow grounds in early days of the event.
As in past years, the Morongo powwow kicked off on California Native American Day with Native American dancers and professional drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada.
“Every year, Morongo welcomes the opportunity to reaffirm and honor the old ways while sharing our culture and traditions with the community,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin. “Powwow is a celebration of life that gives tribal members and families a chance to laugh and dance and experience our beautiful heritage while preserving our traditions for future generations.”
Throughout the weekend, spectators witnessed a swirl of color and sound as competitive dancers wearing intricate, handcrafted regalia of supple leather, fine beadwork and brightly-colored feathers displayed the diversity of Native American dance styles, including traditional, fancy, grass and jingle dress.
One of the most highly rated powwows in the country, the Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow featured a large, outdoor Indian market where artists and craftspeople displayed and sold authentic, handmade jewelry, beadwork, pottery, clothing, and baskets. Native food vendors offered customary homemade delicacies such as Indian tacos and tasty Indian frybread.
During the daily Grand Entry, the powwow arena transformed into a spectacular exhibit of rhythm, music and motion as men, women and children danced together in traditional regalia to the music of competitive drum groups and singers.
The powwow also featured bird singing and peon games, which are the traditional songs and games of Morongo and other tribes in Southern California.