Want to explore your Native American roots, or simply experience another culture right here at home? Pow Wows are a tradition long held by Native Americans — where singing and dancing festivities meet community and connection — and you can experience this special ritual firsthand.
Join the San Manuel tribe in a spectacular celebration in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains!
How to Experience a Native American Pow Wow in Southern California
If you’ve only heard of pow wows in legends or seen them in movie interpretations, you aren’t alone; the only exposure I’d had to authentic Native American ceremonies came from reading in a school textbook. This is why I was so excited to learn that I could participate in a totally immersive experience right here in Southern California!
The vibrant traditional dress, dance competitions, singing and drumming — it all seemed fascinating, and a wonderful excuse to join in on a lively weekend dedicated to our nation’s indigenous tribes. Now, with a little familiarity of the culture, I hope my tips and enthusiasm will compel you to venture out and experience a pow wow yourself!
First, Show Respect
The Master of Ceremonies will provide you with etiquette guidelines, so be sure to listen to him! His guidance regarding when it is appropriate to take photos or join in on the dancing is important. As a general rule, you should stand for the Grand Entry as dancers enter the arena, refrain from taking photos during ceremonies, and remove your hat as a sign of respect during special dances as well.
Experience Another Culture — With No Need For a Passport
If you’ve caught the travel bug but can’t manage the funds or time to jet off overseas, this is the perfect chance to immerse yourself in another culture without venturing too far from home.
You’ll learn about the traditional songs and dances, their history, meanings and purposes — and even be able to partake in social dances yourself! The spirituality of the event is evident in the initial sage blessing of the grounds and final closing ceremony, intended to blanket the pow wow with good spirit and energy.
Try amazing new foods, and as remembrance keepsakes, vendors offer authentic artifacts like handmade jewelry and clothing you can take home as well!
Just as pow wows are a place to sing and dance, they’re also a place to spend quality time with friends and loved ones, new and old. The purpose of pow wows– aside from the awesome performances — is to maintain a sense of community, and create a place for generations to come together and enjoy one another’s presence. The high-energy atmosphere is a great environment for social reunions big and small, or even just as a short mini-vacay away from home.
There’s so many benefits to reap from attending cultural events like this, especially in providing an opportunity to learn about your neighbors. The San Manuel pow wow has been an annual tradition for 23 years and counting — don’t miss a chance to experience such a fun and interesting gathering!
Join San Manuel Pow Wow this October 12th to 14th in San Bernardino, California! For more information about the event, please visit their website here.