Article and photos by Alex Colvin 06/22/15 — Over two hundred and fifty tribal members representing numerous Native American nations gathered in Burney on July 19th, 20th, and 21th to celebrate the 8th Annual Pit River Pow-Wow. The event was held on the grounds of the Pit River Casino surrounded by gorgeous ponderosa pines with a lovely view of Mt. Burney in the background.
The event was open to the public at no charge, so
hundreds of local area residents and visitors also attended. In addition to music and dancing, the program included introductions and talks by royalty, honored tribe members and past winners. The tribe also had a special ceremony honoring Native American veterans.
This year, for the first time, the Pit River Pow-Wow Committee prepared and served Pit River Indian Tacos. There were also several vendors selling Native American crafts, jewelry, and apparel.
About 100 dancers registered to participate and compete in the various dances. Dancers, singers, and
drummers came from as far away as South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Many California tribes were also represented by participants coming from Rowland Heights, Berkeley, Tule Lake, Oakland, and Fort Jones.
Joe Kanip, Northern Ute, was Head Man and Rena Horse, Pit River Tribe, was Head Woman. Myron Horse, Olglala Sioux from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, was the MC. The dancing began Friday evening from dusk till dark.
On Saturday, two groups drummed and sang as the dancers performed. The host drum was Lightning Creek from Lapwai, Idaho. The second group was an enthusiastic circle of junior Native American drummers named Sturgeon Bait, made up of young tribal members from Idaho, Montana, and Washington. One of the drummers from Lightning Creek said, “We want to thank the people of California and the Pit River Tribe for your hospitality. It is really beautiful here.”
After an afternoon featuring a variety of styles of dancing by children and adults, the Pit River Tribal Council provided a delicious complimentary barbecue for all who attended. Afterwards, the dancing resumed in the evening.
On Sunday, activities began with the Grand Entry. JR Fox, Dakota Sioux from Bismarck, North Dakota brought forward the eagle staff followed by a procession. This was followed by an invocation. Then there was an intertribal dance. Current royalty was introduced. A delightful performance was given by some of the youngest dancers, whom the MC introduced as the “tiny tots.”
A new princess from Klamath Falls dances with the tiny tots
The afternoon continued with competitions by dancers of various age groups demonstrating different styles. After the competitions were concluded, the eagle staff exited the grounds, concluding the pow-wow. Winners of the competitions were announced, prizes were awarded, and there was transfer of royalty from last year’s royalty to this year’s.
After the pow-wow concluded and most of the participants had left, MC Myron Horse shared this reflection, “This was a wonderful pow-wow. I hope the Pit River Pow-Wow continues. I want people to say something good to one another and to say encouraging things as we move forward on the pow-wow trail.”
Pictures posted with permission of the Pit River Tribe of Burney, California
Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.