Soaring Eagles at Culture Days 2010

By Roy Cook

San Diego Unified School, Indian Education Title VII, Vickie Gambala and the Indian Human Resource Center organized this May 8-9, 2010 ‘Mothers Day’ Culture Day program. One of the constant strengths of these celebrations of life is the ability to bring many tribal groups together in an original American Indian context to traditionally enjoy the Creator’s gift of life.

Both days the Balboa Park 10am event opening performance by the Three Aukas offered a unique opportunity to experience the complexities of California tribal music form and style not often seen out of the traditional role of song presentation. Auka song leader, Juan Meza Cuero led the Tipai Wildcat songs.


“I was born in the Protero area, of San Diego County in 1939. Alfonso Meza, my Father, started me singing when I was seven. He taught me the structure and presentation of my first Wildcat songs. I have been singing this style of Tipai song all my life. There are many other styles of Tipai song and there used to be many more singers of Wildcat and other Tipai songs. I am very interested in doing what I can to see these Nyemii, Gato, Wildcat songs continue to be sung. I feel it is my role to teach these songs to the next generation of our tribal youth. In this way I hope to bring a sense of pride and cultural self-esteem to our Tipai children’s identity.”

The song cycle sequence of: Tuckuk, Lasha, Lightning, Salt, Wildcat and about 10 other styles including Cahuilla are some of the major traditional Yuman song styles sung in this Southern California region. These songs extend over tribal and linguistic boundaries. From Arizona to the Pacific coast, these songs extend beyond the imposed international boundary. These Bird songs have been sung before time immemorial. Their role is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional in expression and application.

I am inspired by the Culture Days location to suggest more appropriate names, Hatam Park instead of ‘Balboa’ Park: Kumeyaay Way instead of ‘Presidents’ Way and Park Blvd. This location, within close proximity of a former Kumeyaay Village site, is a comfortable place in today’s world for many of our Tribal friends and visitors. Our respected elders from the TONKAWA Seniors club are in prominent position to view all activities. Children and interested friends can approach them for advice or glorious stories of their life experiences. Life long friends renew their shared experiences under the shaded tables. Seen were: Joe Renteria, Bobo and Arlene Galvin. We are very pleased to see Jane Dumas this fine Mother’s day.

There are many special Pow wow highlights this weekend:


1.     The American Indian Warriors Association members composed the Color Guard and participated in the opening Gourd dance. Richard Decrane is the Staff carrier for the American Indian Warrior Association Honor Guard: Ivan Sam, Juaquin Sandoval, Ronnie Murphy, Emerson Joe and William Buchanan brought in the flags at the Grand Entry.



2.     Soaring Eagles: SCAIR American Indian dance instructor Chuck Cadotte dressed in traditional Northern Plains regalia and encouraged the eighty Soaring Eagles youth and parents in the dance circle. There were: Intertribals, Buffalo dances, trot songs, round dance and dance category exhibitions for all to enjoy seeing the progress of the Soaring Eagle dancers.


3.     Keeping everything running smoothly and keeping the visitors informed is the Emcee, SCAIR Senior Advisor Randy Edmonds. Randy organized the first TOT Culture day 22 years ago.

4.     Sunday afternoon, respected elder Eleanor Miller from the Jamul village was honored with Tukuk Bird songs and a huge number of well-wishers. Each year the committee selects a Kumeyay elder in respect for this 50,000-year traditional homeland of the Kumeyaay people.

We have many Native American tribal people living in San Diego. Many are from all over the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. Thousands of visitors enjoyed the circle of vendors from the greater Southwest Indian country. On view are artistic creations of traditional design and exotic interpretations: sculpture, painting, apparel, personal adornment and jewelry. Also, there are the always-popular food booths to feed the inner person. Tasty delights like corn on the cob, fried bread, Indian tacos or pop overs, soups and stews to warm the heart and bring nostalgic smiles to faces far from home. Many at this Pow wow celebration acquired many special gifts and lasting memories.

This day and every day, the Creator is kind to all his creation. Things are never more than what we can endure. This is the compassion of the Creator. Our individual human character will define how we deal with the circumstances of life and those things around us. Best of all the children were there, our American Indian future, smiling, trusting, running in the sunlight and shade, and rolling around in the grass. The children were laughing and rolling in play or gathered around elders for comfort and special treats. These children are our American Indian Nations future, we must always think of them.