Sycuan 20th Annual Pow wow: Soaring Eagles

By Roy Cook


Delightful dusk shadows Dehesa Valley. Circled by silhouetted mountains this Friday September 11, 2009. Cool, refreshing breezes whisper around oak trees and across the manicured grass dance arbor. Fluffy puffs of clouds are a portent of cooler weather this weekend. Songs from time immemorial take flight again for the Tipai people. Relatives and visitors, near and far, frequently remark their appreciation of this place and the good times that they have experienced year after year at Sycuan.

Appropriately, local Southern California Tucuk songs are the first to be offered. Ron Christman with his family and friends sing a set that is so compelling that the women dancers are drawn into the arena. Mike Burgess, emcee, called out for the head gourd dancer to be ready. Sac and Fox-Iowa USMC Korean War veteran, Saginaw Grant is Head Gourd dancer this year. Roan Horse Singers are Kiowa from Carnegie Oklahoma. They provide the songs for this opening session of gourd dance. As the shadows gather into evening and the floodlights shine in the dance arena there is a sense of history and times before. This dance honors our American Indian Warriors and leaders before and beyond chronological time as we perceive it today. When we dance this dance we are in good company, good heart and good purpose.


The Sycuan Color Guard and two Indian staff bearers, ‘Bo Bo’ Galvin and Sycuan Chairman Danny Tucker proudly lead in the Grand entry. They represent our Indian Nations. All the head staff and dance categories fill the Sycuan arbor with colors and beautiful regalia. The 20th annual Sycuan Pow wow is ON for all to enjoy these three days.

This Sycuan Pow wow is a fine prelude to the official California Indian Day later this month. Former Gov. Ronald Reagan officially acknowledged the contributions of California’s Native Americans in 1968, when he signed a resolution proclaiming the fourth Friday of September as American Indian Day. Eventually, in 1998, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill No. 1953 (Baca), establishing Native American Day as an official state holiday.

Today, people of all ages celebrate California Native American Day by learning more about the culture, heritage and traditions of California’s Indian Tribal people.


Soaring Eagles parents and teachers appreciate the opportunity to share our enthusiasm of their lessons and dedication at the Sycuan Pow wow. The Soaring Eagles group is sponsored by: Southern California American Indian Resource, SCAIR. Organized by Vickie Gambala, SDUSD Indian Education and the Lead instructor is Edward ‘Chuck’ Cadotte. The Indian children will carry these songs and Indian ways unto the seventh generation. Randy Edmonds is the, SCAIR Senior advisor and many times provides the blessing for the evening.


We appreciate the Sycuan tribe for their support of the Soaring Eagles. Eleven Soaring Eagles placed in the dance competition and Soaring Eagle singers at two drums were in the money. Two Soaring Eagle adults danced for the first time at this Sycuan Pow wow. Also, two Soaring Eagle adults were called upon to judge contests. We also welcome this opportunity to participate and contribute to the Sycuan Pow wow. We are constantly reminded of the need for continuity of the Tribal culture experience of our Indian children everywhere. Mehan, Aho, thank you.