The 22nd annual event starts Friday ◆ By Mike Hiles
Six months ago, members of the Soboba Pow Wow Committee started meeting to plan this year's event. The 22nd annual Payomkawichum (People of the West) Soboba Inter-tribal Pow Wow will be Friday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 16 at the outdoor Soboba Event Center.
Francine Miranda has been on the committee for nine years and knows how important the monthly meetings are to make sure everything runs smoothly. This year she is working as one of the Vendor Coordinators. At a recent meeting she noted that the count was up to about 30 arts and crafts vendors, 15 food vendors and a handful of informational vendors, such as St. Joseph's Catholic Church located on Soboba Road.
"Some of the challenges are organizing things with the Tribe, administration, the Casino, other members of the committee, local businesses and regional and local tribal members," said Miranda, who now lives in Hemet but lived at the Soboba Reservation for 20 years.
She said the committee makes it own decisions and spends a lot of time coordinating with many different departments to cover every aspect of the event from lodging for Head Staff to parking for participants and guests.
Members of Soboba Public Safety, Casino security, facilities, food and beverage and marketing attended a recent meeting to affirm the checklist items have been met. From power washing the bleachers inside the arena to making sure there is enough bottled water on hand for the schoolchildren's visit on Friday, the committee has ensured that everyone has pitched in and done their part.
Nearly 3,000 fourth- and fifth-graders have reserved a spot for the pow wow preview that has become a welcome cultural event for local schools. The field trip gives the youth an opportunity to experience what the California history they are learning about in their social studies classes and textbooks. To be able to see it right in their own back yard helps their history lessons come to life that can only be accomplished through the generosity of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians tribe.
Lynn Saenz invited sponsors to get involved by placing ads in the full-color program that can be purchased at the event.
"This is a time for celebration and recognition for our ancestors and our culture," she told potential sponsors. "There are many expenses that go along with our celebration and any level of support is appreciated and acknowledged."
This year's committee includes Glen Begay, Chuck Castello, Pamela James, Darrell Lopez, Francine Miranda, Catherine Modesto, Geneva Mojado, Rosemary Morillo, Lynn Saenz and Johnna Valdez.
"Each year I look forward to meeting new friends and spending time with old friends," Miranda said. "I'm also happy to see my granddaughter, Gloria Valdez, competing in the Fancy Shawl dances."
The Grand Entry, which prefaces the start of all sessions of competitions will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, 1:30 and 8 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. A Grand Entry for the Children's Pow wow will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday. This is also a time when the elders present the youngsters with goodie bags as a show of appreciation for participating in the cultural event.
A Saturday evening gathering to showcase local tribal members' bird singing and dancing will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Peon games will begin at dusk. Dance, drum and special contests will take place throughout the three-day event. Men, women, juniors, teens and Golden Age dancers will compete at different times each day and earn points for their performances. Winners of all competitions will be announced at 6 p.m. on Sunday after the flags have been retreated.
The family-friendly event offers free admission and parking for spectators.
Information, www.soboba-nsn.gov or 951-654-5544, ext. 4112.