Sycuan Pow wow 2014

By Roy Cook

This gathering is right on the heels of the successful Barona pow wow last week. This annual Sycuan pow wow, September 5, 6, 7, 2014 summer weekend gathering, is the culmination for many other tribal cultural events in the San Diego County region. A major focus is the traditional occasion for the summer Tribal culture, art, music, games and the opportunity to meet new and lifelong friends. Around the dance arena international and local elders are respectfully accessible. This is national tribal self determination in action. It is a celebration promoting trial pride, hospitality and generosity. And is part of the continuing saga that is the local Kumeyaay Tribal custom and tradition.

I was born in Southern Arizona and for a bit the mid-day weather made me nostalgic for home. The power of the Creator is most evident in the noonday arena Gourd dance. Even more so is the hint of the Arizona monsoon trying its best to make it over the Laguna Mountains to bless us all with the damp water of life.

Much of this Sycuan celebration has a local Kumeyaay prominence. Throughout the weekend from Bird songs sung at the raising of the Veterans’ memorial flags, the drum singing and pow wow activities. Into the late night there are custom and tradition presentations of local Bird singing and opportunities for traditional gaming, the Peon competition.

Viejas youth and adult teams swept the competition this year. Peon is a highly competitive game of complex strategy, skill and calculation. It is played with eight players – four on each side, with an additional man or woman to act as umpire (Koymi). The two sides are usually made up of male or female players from different tribes or bands. The game itself is played with eight “peon sticks”- four white, and four black (usually made of sheep bone or coyote bone). They are about three inches long and a quarter of an inch in diameter. The object of the game is for one side to win all the tally sticks. The Koymi, at the end awards tally sticks corresponding to the number of correct guesses from one side to the other. The game is won when one side wins all of the tally sticks.

At the early grand entry, the Indian flag eagle staff was carried by Danny Tucker, Sycuan Tribal Chairman. He is followed by the Sycuan Color Guard and a massive, glorious group of 500 or more Native American pow wow participants in category regalia. Dance competing by category followed until the dinner break. The Sycuan hosted dinner was assisted and served by the Soaring Eagles /dance group. The evening continued with more contests and specials.

May the Creator guide and protect you always. Have a safe journey home. Thank you for coming! The Creator’s blessing upon you all until we see each other again, Mehan.

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