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Pow wow returning to Bishop for 30th year

September 23, 2010

The fourth Friday in September is California Indian Day and the local Native American community is joining the celebration with a parade, Pabanamanina Gathering and Pow Wow and traditional handgames all weekend long.
The pow wow, now in its 30th year, draws dancers and artists from all over the country. The event is also a rare opportunity for the public to view and purchase Native American art from around the U.S.
All activities are offered free and open to the public.
Wanda Summers of the Pow Wow Committee said Bishop volunteers and sponsors work all year to organize the event for “good, clean sober fun.”
The event starts Friday morning with a parade on North Pa Ha Lane. The Bishop Tribal Council sponsors the games for kids at the Barlow Lane Gym following the parade. There will be a family tug o’ war and family handgames, a football throw and a watermelon eating contest. The games, prizes and free food will happen from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The pow wow starts with the grand entry at 7 p.m. Friday at the pow wow grounds adjacent to the Paiute Palace Casino, and will continue through Sunday.
The pow wow gets under way on Saturday with another grand entry at noon and the tiny-tot princess crowning. There will also be a special recognition for all veterans in attendance on Saturday.
The main event and highlight of the weekend, said Summers, is sure to be the winner-take-all male dancing competition Saturday evening. The $1,000 purse will have the dancers “putting their best foot forward,” Summers said.
There will be plenty of seating in the bleachers and shade under the arbor, Summers said. Event-goers are welcome to bring their own chairs and umbrellas too.
Summers added that there is always room for organizations to set up information booths, all at no charge. Vendors may call Alison Piper at (760) 937-9605 to inquire about booth space.
And there will be food – lots of food – from the many free barbecues, or for purchase from the many vendors. Summers added that she is excited to see the great artistry from vendors from all over the Southwest and the coast, as well as local artists. She said there will be intricate bead works, unique pottery and exquisite jewelry.
There will also be handgames, one of the oldest Native American traditions that can be traced back to some Creation stories, according to Erick Mason, local handgames event coordinator and game expert.
Mason explained handgames as basically pick-a-hand, while trying not to be distracted by songs. These games are not endemic to the Paiute Tribe, but have been passed around from tribe to tribe. And, the games are more than simple gambling.
“Handgames were used to settle land disputes – rather than going to war,” Mason explained.
The main handgame tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday carries $10,000 in cash prizes, with first place bringing in $5,000.
For more information on the handgames, call Mason at (760) 873-6435.
For more information on this weekend’s other events, visit

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