Those who enjoy Native American art, music, food and dancing might want to stop by William S. Hart Park this weekend for the free 29th anniversary Hart of the West Pow Wow.
The family-friendly two-day celebration of Indigenous culture also includes storytelling time for children and an opportunity for visitors to check out the dance floor, if they’re brave enough.
“Oh, there will definitely be plenty of Native American dancers there, dancing different styles from across the country,” said Sen. Joe Bodle, a representative of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians in Santa Clarita. “There are several different drum groups singing Southern and Northern songs.”
Bodle said he was particularly excited for this year’s event for a few reasons: First, this weekend marks the return of the event for the first time in four years, having been on hiatus due to COVID-19; and second, the host is the local Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, which is also exciting, he said.
For Bodle, who could recall coming to the gatherings as a kid, he likened the annual get-together at Hart Park to a family reunion. But the event is for everyone, he said, noting that in addition to the cultural celebration, there will also be food and vendors for shopping in the park. One of Bodle’s favorites, he said, are “Indian tacos,” which he compared to a traditional taco but it’s served “like a tostada” on fried bread.
“It’s a community event, and not just the native community, it’s for the (whole) community,” he said, adding there are a lot of educational opportunities there as well, for people who want to learn about native culture.
The hours of the event are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Throughout the weekend, an emcee will announce the different dances being performed and, at times, welcome guests to the floor for intertribal dancing, which is fun for everyone, he said.
Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste, president of the Friends of Hart Park and Museum, which helped the Fernandeño band organize the event, said she was looking forward to the event’s return after the hiatus.
“It is a tremendous, fun experience for people of all ages — the music and the dances and the authentic food,” Weste said Tuesday during the Santa Clarita City Council meeting. “And it’s free, so there’s a wonderful weekend in store there.”
Both Bodle and Leon Worden, vice president of the Friends of Hart Park and Museum, said that what’s also special about this year is that the event is being organized by its local native tribal representatives, leaders with a particularly significant tie to the Santa Clarita Valley and the event.
“Our noncompetitive powwow is like a big family get-together for our participants from many tribal nations, and we’re delighted to be able to share it with the public after so many dark COVID years,” Worden said Thursday. “What’s really exciting this year has been happening behind the scenes. We’ve always had Native American leadership on the powwow committee, but this is the first time our own local tribal members — the descendants of people who’ve lived in our valley since time immemorial — have really made it their own home powwow by organizing the event under the direction of (Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians) Chairman (Rudy) Ortega.”
Hart Park is located at 24151 Newhall Ave. in Santa Clarita.