Gathering a return to tradition after year away

Traditional Native songs were performed at the San Diego American Indian Health Center Pow Wow held in Balboa Park Oct. 2-3, a way to keep once-forbidden languages alive. Members of the Sycuan, Barona, and Viejas communities participated in the weekend event.

The San Diego American Indian Health Center hosted its annual Pow Wow in Balboa Park Oct. 2-3. The 2020 Pow Wow, which would have been the 32nd annual event from the organization, was canceled last year and people came from all over to participate in this year’s iteration of the traditional event.

A circle in which representatives from different tribes performed traditional singing, dancing and drumming served as the center of the event.

Health Center representatives were on hand to give out information on wellness groups, medical and dental programs and behavioral health care and basic wellness checks were performed on site with healthcare providers calmly taking blood pressure readings under the shade of a large tree.

Viejas tribal member Blue Eagle Vigil said the event itself was a form of medicine, a chance to put aside political differences and join together in camaraderie and community.

“We all need each other. We need to come together to get physically, mentally, emotionally healthy and people coming here today— it’s a form of medicine, even if they don’t know it is medicine,” he said.

Dance and song, he said, bring healing.

“Pow Wows are gatherings of American Indian and Alaskan Native nations to celebrate and perpetuate their beautiful traditions of drumming, singing, dancing, prayers, and kinship,” San Diego tribal elder Randy Edmonds said.

Southern California American Indian Resource Center also had information available on job training, community grants, and tutorial services for Native children. Although their Southern California office is in El Cajon, they serve Native American families across the entire county.

The San Diego American Health Center, which sponsored the event, seeks to reduce health disparities in San Diego’s Urban American Indian and underserved populations. Visit sdaihc.org for more information.

Gathering a return to tradition after year away

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