Rain or shine made no difference to the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, as they still carried on the 29th annual Hart of the West Pow Wow at Hart Park on Saturday despite the heavy, unexpected downpour.
Many attendees admired the vibrant regalia and traditions of the people of the land. Randy Folkes, alongside his Tataviam family, showcased and explained traditions pertaining specifically to the tribe. For example, Folkes discussed the Tataviam rituals, such as bird singing, as well as explaining that the people sing, not chant, gather in an arena, not a circle, and wear regalia, not costumes.
While the Pow Wow does not originate from the Tataviam people, the dances represented the tribe, while encouraging everyone of all ethnicities to join.
Attendees also learned about the different types of dances as Glen Begay, the announcer for the Pow Wow, discussed the nuances in regalia.
“Usually the lead dancer wears a single eagle bustle, those are Northern Traditional dancers. The ones who don’t are usually Southern Straight Dancers from the Southern plains. The jingle dress dancers, the ones with metal cones, are from the Ojibwe from the Great Lakes area.” Begay said. “The women traditional dances usually just wear a dress.”
Lead dancer Aaron Martin has been dancing for the past 15 years despite coming out to Pow Wows his whole life.
“I’ve been coming to this Pow Wow since the beginning of its inception. It’s been more like a family reunion. I’m Tataviam and Chumash, and this is Tataviam land that we’re on,” Martin said.
While it would’ve been a bit easier for the rain to let up, it did not discourage Martin from having a positive outlook.
“The rain is nice being here in California. We need the rain.”
Despite hesitating to dance due to his own apprehensions, he credited dancing as a way to build self-confidence and showcase his ancestral traditions.
“[This Pow Wow] is a good avenue for a lot of people that have to reach out to good for us to connect with our ancestry, our traditions. It’s not something that you see on a day-to-day basis.”
Martin’s mother, Cheryl, who is the tribal senator and on the Hart of the West Pow Wow committee, as well as being cousins with tribal President Rudy Ortega Jr., discussed the gathering of the tribal citizens, as well as organizing this event.
“It takes a village, but it’s with the whole committee. Everybody was wonderful— the Friends of Hart Park, the city, all the sponsors,” Cheryl said. “We’re blessed. Everybody came together. We made it happen. We’re all one family. We all want the same thing.”
Valuing the traditions passed on from one generation to the next, Cheryl wants people to know that the Tataviam will always stay.
“We’ve always been here and we’re not leaving. We are here,” Cheryl said.