A man with two children on either side of his stan in their colorful Native American regalia
Arts & Life, Features

SPECIAL SECTION: Generations span Pow Wow celebration

From young children to elders, different tribes from across California came together to display the way they dress, celebrate and create, at the 49th annual Pow Wow on Long Beach State’s campus this weekend.

Pow Wow showcased decades of American Indian tradition from dance style to the food served.

“It’s going to be up to you to carry on these traditions in future times,” said Master of Ceremony Arlie Neskahi over the loudspeaker.

LBSU’s Pow Wow is the oldest and largest university Pow Wow in America, according to Naskahi. People attending, such as Susan Jackson and Annette Phoenix, said the event is great because they get to see people younger than them carry on tradition.

Jackson felt that part of the importance of Pow Wow is that tribes can celebrate, pray and learn from each other at the event. Each family and tribe has different traditions that they pass on through the ages.

“It’s easy in this big city for us to get lost and lose our tradition,” Phoenix said.

One young boy, Talon Alford, sat near the center of the action getting ready to dance at the celebration. The 7-year-old boy has been at every Pow Wow for the last four years and has been Indian dancing since he was two-years-old.

“I learn how to be a better Indian dancer every time I come here,” Talon said.

Talon’s dad, Skye Alford, is a dancer as well and passed on different types of dancing to Talon. At home, they practice northern traditional dancing every day and learn more about American Indian culture.

Around the event, fathers and mothers stood with their children in their personal regalia, some even cradling their young babies as they participated in the gourd dance, which is a traditional dance of the Kiowa tribe to honor warriors and veterans. One father, Osteen Bob stood with his 3-year-old son Brayan and his 4-year-old nephew Marcel in their regalia as people took pictures of them.

Bob and his family appreciate the privilege to be able to come to Pow Wow together to share tradition. He talked about the traditions his parents handed down to him and added that he’s raising his children they way they would have wanted.

“It’s everything to us to be able to show our tradition,” Bob said. “Everything I was taught when I was little is going to be passed on to him.”

The act of passing down stories and tribal traditions has always been part of American Indian history. Elders still pass along these stories today and plan to do so for as long as time goes on.

Couple Linda Julio Rodriguez, 67, and Julio Rodriguez, 71, said they enjoy being part of educating young people on Native American History.

“It all started with my older sister,” Linda said. “She was one of the first Native American teachers for L.A. Unified and loved educating kids on Native American folklore and tradition.”

Once her sister’s kids started school she saw the lack of American Indian history that was being taught and wanted to change that. Before her sister died, she spent her time traveling to different schools to teach kids about tradition.

This weekend’s Pow Wow connected over 50 different tribes from all over and gave attendees and participants a unique view on the varying cultures and customs.

“Even though we’re all Native American we’re all different,” Jackson said. “We are able to see and learn from different people and even elders.”

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