By Mike Kinney
Community members donned their finest pow wow regalia for the 13th Richmond Native American Contest Pow-Wow event at Veterans Memorial Hall in Richmond on Saturday.
The Richmond Native American Pow-Wow Committee presents the annual pow wow to bring together different tribes and communities for a cultural celebration that includes dancing, singing, socializing, arts, crafts and food. Held on Veterans Day, the event also served to honor Native American veterans.
Among the event attendees was Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez, who proclaimed the ocassion as “Native American Veterans Pow Wow Day” in the city. Richmond Councilmember Cesar Zepeda and Richmond police Chief Bisa French also spoke at the pow-wow. All dignitaries received Native blankets.
Gourd Dancing started at 11 a.m., followed by the Contest Dancing at noon. A Princess Contest for girls 11 to 16 years old followed. The Veterans Honor Dance was among the main events.
Courtney Mvskoke, Richmond Native American Pow-Wow Committee organizer and activist, spoke inspirationally on the importance of pow-wow. For attendee Vickie Garcia (Chiricahua Apache/ Round Valley Pomo), who worked the raffle table at the event, the pow-wow represents “a big family reunion, where we are connected by a commone thread of humanity and are able to see friends and family we may not have seen for a good while.”
Michael Ballinger from the All Nations Singers added, “Today was about honoring our veterans.”
Corrina Gould (Lisjan Ohlone) conducted the opening Ohlone Blessing, while Tom Philips (Kiowa) served as Master of Ceremonies. Carlise Philips (Kiowa/ Hualapai) served as Arena Director; Sadie Shervino (Paiute/ Shoshone) was Head Woman; David Wilson (Lakota) was Head Man; Erick Kimple (Commanche) was Head Gourd; Smoke Johnson was Head Judge; Kaylene Kimple (Commanche) was Tabulator; and Rogelio Guerrero (Curly Clan of the Navajo Nation) was Flag Bearer.