Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buffalo Boy and the Pow Wow

My love for Native American culture began in 2nd grade in the library of Grandview Elementary.   I was an avid reader and library day was the highlight of my week.  I looked forward to it as much as I looked forward to the daily milk patrol -- specially selected 4th graders who delivered our afternoon snack.

There was a shelf in the library I loved more than all the others, simply because all of the books within my reach were about young kids having adventures -- Little House on the Prarie, Henry and Bezus, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Encyclopedia Brown ..... all great reads in case you have a daughter in the 2nd grade.

One day I came across a book titled  Buffalo Boy, by Edna Chandler, a fictional story about a young Native American Boy coming of age.  It was fascinating.  I read it three times, and dreamed of living in a teepee, sleeping on a buffalo hide.  I imagined myself weaving baskets and creating leather moccasins adorned with beads.  In fact, I think I begged for a pair of real moccasins that year for Christmas -- and fortunately they were in fashion back in the 60's.  I actually got a pair for my birthday and wore them every day until I discovered that they weren't the best shoe to wear while playing hop scotch on the play ground.

Fast forward to Summer 1998,  the year we first moved to Temecula.   The neighborhood was pretty barren back then, surrounded by lots of vacant land -- covered with orange groves, and pastures with grazing sheep.   At night you could hear packs of coyotes yelping, and it sounded as though they were right down the street -- and they were.   One night, July 1st to be exact, the coyotes were silent, and another sound took their place --- the sound of drums and chanting.  It started out soft, and got louder and louder as the night wore on,  but I didn't mind it at all, it took me back to Buffalo Boy.  

The chanting and the drums continued for three days and nights.  We couldn't figure out what it was, until a seasoned neighbor explained it was the annual Pow Wow hosted by Pechanga.  On the last night, along with the chanting came a spectacular fireworks display that we could see from our front yard.   It was an unexpected surprise.   When it was over, you could hear cheers coming from every house on the street.

That was over 13 years ago, and I'm ashamed to tell you that in all this time, while I enjoy the yearly fire works display, and the music of the drums,  I have never ever been to the Pow Wow.  Never.  And that my friends, is just shameful for one who loves Native American Culture.  So this week when the annual chanting began, I vowed that I would join in the fun.

What I discovered is that I have been missing out.  Navaho fry bread, elaborate Native American costumes, hand crafted artwork,  and an outdoor arena packed with people.   As a sat and watched what was talking place around me, I again thought of Buffalo Boy and my dreams of being part of a tribe.  Oh how I wished that I could join in the circle and dance to the beat of the drums.

Rather than tell you all about it, I'll show you instead because words just wouldn't do it justice.  And by the way, the costumes you see are handmade.


1 comment:

Eve said...

I am bummed I have to wait another year to see this in person! I had never even thought about going, but we need to next year.