On Saturday, April 5, Native American dancers and powwow drum groups will converge in Claremont for the Annual Pomona College Powwow: Honoring the Elements. The intertribal gathering to celebrate Native American culture and honor traditions through music and dance will begin at noon with the Grand Entry noon on the College's Hammer Throw Field at south end of the Pomona College campus. Free parking is available in the South Campus Parking Structure, on the corner of Amherst Avenue and First Street.
Tongva/ Acjachemen Spiritual Advisor Jimi Castillo will bless the grounds. The Master of Ceremonies will be Bobby Whitebird, of the Cheyenne Nation. Northern host drum "The Wildhorse Singers" and Southern host drum "The Northridge Boys" will provide special powwow songs for the dancers throughout the day. A drum contest will be held for powwow drum groups who participate in "roll-call." Geri Keams, an accomplished actress, storyteller and children's author from the Diné Nation, will share stories with the young and the young at heart in the Pomona College Organic Farm Dome from 1-4 pm. Kim Marcus, of Noli Indian High School near present-day "San Jacinto," will lead the Coyote Dance and Big Horn Sheep Songs and Dance of the Serrano people at 5 pm.
In addition to traditional and contemporary Native American dances and music, times are scheduled throughout the day when the community will be invited into the dance arena to share an intertribal dance. Approximately 20 Native American artisans will showcase traditional and contemporary styles of art at the powwow. These hand-crafted examples of beadwork, pottery, quillwork and silver-smithing will be available for purchase in the powwow's open air marketplace. Food will be available on-site with the Claremont Colleges Indigenous Student Alliance selling roasted corn and the Wildhorse Cafe serving "some of the tastiest Indian Tacos this side of Albuquerque."
The Pomona College Powwow in Claremont is part of a college effort that began in 2011 to honor the ancestors and tribal homelands on which the college is located. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Los Angeles County has the highest population of American Indians of any county in the country with approximately 200,000 Native Americans residing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Previous events have included a healing ceremony and Native youth outreach through college tours and workshops.
The Honoring the Elements Powwow is sponsored jointly by the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships, the 5C Indigenous Student Alliance of the Claremont Colleges and the Pomona College Organic Farm. Funding for this special event comes from The Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative. The Draper Center coordinates many of the College's community engagement programs, with a focus on mutually beneficial exchanges. These include educational outreach and community-based research/learning experiences as well as a range of other community based activities.
For further information about the Pomona College Powwow in Claremont, please contact Scott Scoggins, Community Scholar in Residence at the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships, at (909) 706-5948.