SCAIR Soaring Eagles are Head Staff at Wellness Social Pow wow

April 8th, 2009

By Roy Cook

Monday evening; April 6, 2009 at the University of Oklahoma 8th Annual Native Women and Men Wellness Conference in the Town and County Mission Valley the Soaring Eagle Dancers enjoyed the opportunity to express our culture and traditions. For a timeless four hours we are, once again, in the circle of life. This circle contains aspects of the good red road that we lightly place our feet to. This circle is the entry path to that special place and songs that inspires us to dance beyond our physical selves. This evening there are many songs from good drums: Green River and the San Diego Inter-Tribal Singers. Everyone has an ample opportunity to dance and enjoy being what we are, Indian people.


The Soaring Eagle dancers are all San Diego area Indian children. Their outfits are colorful and worn with pride. Many are produced by a combined effort of their families. The San Diego American Indian Warriors Association attends for the gourd dance led by Richard Van Dyke Parker and is the Honor Color Guard. The Emcee, Randy Edmonds, acknowledged our Military Warriors now serving and past veterans of many campaigns. One can live a lifetime in shorter periods of time but for these good four hours in San Diego, California many of us had a dandy time. Edward ‘Chuck’ Cadotte is the Arena Director for this dance.

Dance has always played an important role in Plains Indian cultures, as a central element in both religious and secular life. Less than 100 years ago, powwows did not exist, as we know them today. The continuity of culture has endured and Indian dance tradition will continue to remain and evolve though a variety of dance traditions that would eventually be defined as the modern powwow today. Among these traditions were summer gatherings of ceremonial and social dances, healing, memorial and warrior society dances held to honor and bring protection upon their members.

Both these traditions, along with many other American Indian practices, underwent severe restrictions during the last century when the United States government, in its effort to prohibit certain Indian ceremonies, banned a number of dance-based traditions. Despite these bans, however, Plains Indian dancing did not entirely disappear. Ceremonies and dances went “underground” and were held on the far reaches of reservations in secret, or were masked as other types of events entirely. In these forms dance continued to play a part in Plains Indian life, although a quiet one, during this culturally repressive time.

It was not until 1933 that the government lifted its oppressive religion and cultural bans on American Indian Art and Dance could once again take an active, public place in American Indian life. At the end of World War II with the return of Indian soldiers from abroad, the warrior society dances of the past century began to acquire new meaning. Additionally, returning Korea and Cold War warriors were honored at powwows or “Homecoming Dances,” as they were sometimes called on the Southern Plains, which included the songs, dances and regalia of earlier traditional warrior societies. Most prominently represented by the popular Gourd Clan Societies introduced by the Kiowa.

Outside of the dance arena important social ties and customs were also rebuilt, including the honoring of elders, naming and adoption ceremonies, the reception of families back into public life following a period of mourning, and a general bonding between families and friends. The general structure of these early powwows resembled the summer dance celebrations of the past century and included the use of a camp crier, Eyapaha or announcer, the gathering of families to camp out at celebration grounds, and important social interaction among the participants.

Before 1950, the term “powwow” was used only on the Southern Plains in reference to American Indian gatherings and celebrations of song and dance. However, powwows gained further prominence in the 1950s and 1960s throughout the Northern Plains region when Sioux, Crow, and Blackfeet tribes began to sponsor Wachipi, Intertribal gatherings for fun and dancing. Members of elite warrior societies, mostly based on the Omaha Heluska, held the original dances. This Omaha tribal origin is frequently acknowledged. There were a variety of names used by different tribes for these dances. Among them are Omaha Dance used by the Sioux, Hot Dance used by the Crow and Dakota Dance by the Cree.

Urban powwows have continued to grow over the last sixty years; whereas 70 years ago most powwows took place on reservations, some of the biggest are now held in convention centers and gyms in large cities around the country. Today, the powwow is both a community gathering and cultural celebration. It is not a commercial event, nor is it purely “entertainment.” It is an important spiritual and social gathering of people to celebrate American Indian traditions, dance and social customs.

Although the warrior societies and early Plains “Homecoming” powwows of the past were primarily the domain of male dancers, today’s powwows are open to everyone: men, women, and even small children. This family participation by: Elders, men and women and the ever popular “tiny tots” indicates that not only are music and dance alive and well in Plains Indian culture, but that they will continue to play an important role for generations to come. “Honor Dances,” “Specials” and “Giveaways” recognize the importance of families and individuals participating in the powwow and honor them for their commitment.

Powwows help to keep song and dance a very real and contemporary part of Native American life. At the same time, the changes that powwows go through help to make them a living art form. It is important to realize that recent innovations and shared styles are not less traditional nor “unauthentic,” as dance dress styles and details still mark personal heritage as well as individual taste. We shall continue to ‘Remain’ and be who we are Indian people.

SCAIR at the 32nd CIEA Conference

April 2nd, 2009

By Roy Cook

SCAIR, Southern California American Indian Resource Center Inc. and affiliated programs is an active participant at the California Indian Education Directors Association 32nd annual conference March 29-31, 2009. This, Building Success through Tradition and Education, CIEDA event host city is Palm Springs, California and all are welcomed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Hundreds of interested and curious attendees visited the multi-media and informative SCAIR booths on display.clip_image002

Excellent pictures:

This must be ‘commod’ day in Palm Springs. From the lobby of the Wyndham hotel ‘skins’ are stacked high and spread wide. This statewide 32nd annual conference on California Indian Education, CIEA, and projects is represented by those regional centers in force. It feels very good to see a pacific ocean of all ages of round brown faces smiling and looking forward to the workshops and speakers listed in the call to convention program.

The CIEA conference program, opening with a written welcome to the Se-khi, boiling water, Palm Springs area by the Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Richard M. Milanovich. He reflects the support of the theme, Building Success through Tradition and Education. Also, he extends their host city pride of the statewide conference of California Indian Education and American Indian early childhood development programs.


CALIE webmaster Gary Ballard, Ernie Salgado family: daughter Andrea, grand daughters Ashley, Allisa, Amanda and others.

Most of this first day is occupied in setting up the California Indian Education CALIE and APAPAS displays, posters, SCAIR information materials and the multimedia presentation station in the combined AHMIUM Education booth spaces. Early and ongoing attendees circle about and return again and again. The subject matter, Building Success through Tradition and Education, is compelling and representatively identifiable in variations of interpretations by the other 28 California Department of Education CIEA projects throughout the state.


There are over 51 informative workshops and entertaining special events and activities. Hand game tournaments, ‘Oldies’ rock and roll reception room, youth activities center, Elders hospitality room, Indian Canyon youth nature walk, Elders banquet, Educators luncheon and inspiring keynote speakers: Jack O Connell, CA Dept. of Ed, and Dr Willard Gilbert, Hopi and NIEA President.

The Elders banquet in the grand ballroom is packed. California Southland honorees are: Coretha Pasqual. Quechan, Ernest H. Siva, Cahuilla-Serrano, Leroy Elliot, Kumeyaay, Patricia Rodriguez, Ralph Goff, Kumeyaay and Vickie Gambala, Cherokee.

The wisdom of our elders continues to sustain us. Ernest Siva is quoted to have said, “As an elder I see no honor in being the last to know something.” He works to save and revitalize culture. Maybe, best of all, he shows by his life example how one can live in the modern world without forgetting one’s cultural identity. After all, from our cultural identity is formed integrity and character.

Soaring Eagle Performance at Barrio Station

March 13th, 2009

By Roy Cook

On March 12, 2009, the Barrio Station Auditorium 2175 Newton Ave, 92113, is pleased to add the Soaring Eagles American Indian Dance group to their 39th Annual Benefit dinner program.


Barrio Station Executive director, Rachael Ortiz, greeted the overflowing attendance with gracious patience. As many were meeting people that see each other each day others were renewing friendships delayed and some were greeting each other after long absence of association, it is all good. She said, “Our friends are what we look to for support in the constant struggle to protect ‘Madre Logan’ and our hope for the future, the children.” And then, “Now everyone sit down so we can start our evening program.”


The SCAIR Soaring Eagle dancers are the dinner entertainment for this event. There are swirling colors on traditional regalia. Very young dancers bringing their pride in they’re cultural identities to share this evening. Hours of loving labor are reflected in the decorative outfits worn by the dancers. Randy Edmonds, Kiowa elder and SCAIR senior advisor, identifies the categories of dance and along with Chuck Cadotte encourages our American Indian future heritage to do this thing at the Barrio Station. Caesar E Chavez Humanitarian awardees Ron Christman stated, “In order to move forward, we have to know where we come from.” The children dancing embodied the Tribal expression of family.

At times, our dreams can take flight and we will find ourselves in company with stars. Tonight there are Stars on stage and at the tables. Honorees, annual donors of support, community groups, educational institutions, recovery programs and outreach to labor and business organizations are represented in this firmament.


Recognized with awards this evening are: Josefa ‘Pepa’ Flores, Margarita Magana, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castillo, Kathy Patoff, Louis ‘Louie’ Cardenas, Salimu Anderson and Ron Christman. There are special representative cultural drum honoring songs for Salimu and Ron. This was a night to remember.

The Soaring Eagles are sponsored by: Southern California American Indian Resource, SCAIR. Singing for the Soaring Eagles is the San Diego Inter-Tribal Singers Drum.

Thank you all for the opportunity to share our Tribal culture and your generous participation with the Soaring Eagles, Muchisimas gracias, Aho, Mehan

Soaring Eagles Up, Up and Away

March 10th, 2009

By Roy Cook

We had a good time singing at the Soaring Eagles practices Normal Heights Community Center on 4649 Hawley Blvd. San Diego CA 619-281-5964 Wednesday October 29, 2008. A fine time for Indian humor, conversation, frantic activity on regalia, regional comfort food and some great songs for flying feet and swirling shawls.

From sign in sheets to speeches and the final sweep up. Smiles powered the efforts of all to help the Indian students learn and still have a good time. New faces of Indian families are in the room. Some other families were not able to attend due to sports and other commitments. But there is something good here to keep folks coming back week after week. You just have to be here to see it in the faces of the Indian children and the proud smiles of the parents.

For now foremost in every ones mind is the upcoming Veterans pow wow at the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Recreation Center on November 8 & 9, 2008. The Soaring Eagle students will be brought into the pow wow circle at this event. See the link for pow wow poster:

Debbie and the rest of the Razos brought in wonderfully smelling and warm belly filling chilaquillas. Fresh fruit and other delightful goodies had folks going back for seconds. Plenty of punch and water to cool down the hot dancing and the coffee hit the spot for the rest of us this cool evening.

The classes, fun, songs are free to the public but it is a community POT LUCK so bring something good for others to share next week.
Thank you, Aho, Mehan.

Clear Skies for the Soaring Eagles

March 10th, 2009

By Roy Cook

clip_image0012This is a fine night to hear Vickie Gambala announce the good news that the dance program will be funded by SCAIR through June for sure!
This February 25, 2009 Wednesday night at the Normal Heights Community Center is another occasion for warm and friendly feelings. It is also a fine night to sing good songs and lift the hearts of our Indian children. We participate in support to provide the songs for them to learn the techniques and attitudes of American Indian Dance.

Randy Edmonds, SCAIR Senior Advisor, opens the evening with more announcements about the Grossmont College Pow wow this weekend and a blessing for the potluck meal that all will enjoy. This is just the night for a good comfort food: spaghetti and meat sauce, tossed salad, macaroni casserole with sliced jalapenos, rolls and butter, coffee and punch. There is a birthday cake for Tiffany Workman and many variations of birthday song singing by everyone.


There are some new faces and familiar families this evening. Chuck Cadotte had some good words to go along with the dance instruction. We continue to line up and bring in the children several times with a grand entry format. Later appropriate songs are sung for our next public presentation at the Barrio Station. There are five or more specific dance categories: Grass dance, fancy shawl, jingle, southern traditional and intertribal songs.

All the San Diego Inter-Tribal singers: Terry Hinsly, Frank Gastelum, Leland Red Eagle, Ben Nance, Alex Gastelum, Kim Flying Eagle, Richard Decrane, Ernie Walton and Roy Cook thought it was a fine evening for singing songs our Indian children and volunteering for a project in Americans Finest City for the finest people in the world- Indian people.

Soaring Eagles at GCC Pow wow

March 8th, 2009

By Roy Cook

The Grossmont College, GCC, pow wow weather is warm, sunny, pleasant in the day and comfortable in the evening. Inside the room is pulsating with the Pow wow tradition. Grossmont College annual celebration of life brings together the urban and rural tribal population into mutual co-operation. The institution provides the facility but essentially no other support. GCC advisor, Tom Gamboa related, “This Pow Wow has always had a theme of “Indians helping Indians.” Also, Tom announced a substantial amount to be added to the student scholarship fund.

Each year this last Saturday in February is the Grossmont Community College, GCC, culture event. This Pow wow is always good for lot of fine Southern plains tradition to enjoy. There are many American Indian military veterans and very dedicated Traditional society dancers live for gourd dance and these five hours of magnificent songs!

There is an electric tension in the air in anticipation of the Grand Entry. The GCC pow wow is one of the first of the season after the holidays. The American Indian Warriors Association, AIWA, is the Honor Guard that brought in the flags.


Our good friend Randy Edmonds, SCAIR Senior advisor, is the Emcee again and he keeps us smiling and informed as the afternoon and evening circle of life sparkles and shines.


Along with the San Diego Soaring Eagle dancers and their mentor/instructors, many excellent and new dancers filled the dance arena this evening. It fills our heart to see so many happy faces enjoying our tribal ways. Indian traditions will live the Creator says so!


This report will be incomplete without recognizing the outstanding quality of the Host Drums and the superb singers that make the pow wow experience the successful and traditional tribal celebration for all the people. Red Tipi singers: Glen and Daron Ahhitty joined in with ‘Junior’ Whitecloud and his cousin, ‘Spud’ Brown and some other Otoes and Kiowa to bring forth hours of gourd dance and good songs. White cloud singers: Red Hand drum and Dancing Cloud sang songs of the Northern plains.


Our final acknowledgement and heartfelt thanks is to the GCC pow wow organizing committee: Chairperson Tiffany Workman along with Tom Gamboa and his students who generously assisted with this event: Nancy Gamboa had plenty of hot coffee and water for the dancers.

We will look for you on the Pow wow trail, Thank you, Aho, Mehan.