WOW! Last Sunday Reba and I attended the 20th Annual Thunder & Lightening Pow Wow presented by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Sunday morning we lazed around the house reading the New York Times and wondering if it would be worth getting dressed and going to the Pow Wow. Reba, who is 1/16 Native American (her mother’s middle name was Little Heart), finally gave the command and we saddled up and drove to Morongo. So glad we did.

The drum beat beckoned us into the gigantic air conditioned tent set up behind the super deluxe sky-scraper casino. Once inside, another world envelops. Native Americans from North America and Canada in full regalia filled the center ring dancing in stately procession to the ceaseless beat of the drums. Old men in fantastic attire moved with somber and stately grace, hundreds of young men in “fancy dress” spun and swooped, beautiful stately women, dressed to the nines, backs straight as arrows, slowly flanked the perimeter of the ring. All moving to the beat of the drums, all bedecked in amazing traditional attire, all as one – The People. I get goose bumps recalling the spectacle.

$90,000 is awarded to the participants in categories that include, bird singing, peon games, drumming, and traditional dance. So you can imagine how focused the contestants are and how elaborate their preparations must be. Many contestants don their costumes in the bleachers so part of the experience is sitting next to and chatting with a person as they slowly transform themselves from a regular 21st Century person to a resplendent princess or brave.

The performance venue is surrounded with many food vendors dishing up Indian Tacos and Strawberry Shortcake on Squaw Bread and loads of other tasty unique treats. Craft booths are loaded with Indian jewelry and crafts including many of the ornamental embellishments seen on the Pow Wow contestant’s regalia.

Don’t miss this free three day event in 2011!

Rex