UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star) joked that his “Indian name is Steve Garcia.”

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star) joked that his “Indian name is Steve Garcia.”

Photos: Kumeyaay, Dancers and Hundreds More Flock To UCSD Pow Wow

UCSD Pow Wow was much more than a gathering. It was a place for learning and reflecting on Native culture

On the ancestral lands of the Kumeyaay people, 40-50 dancers and a few hundred spectators flocked to the coastal campus of the University of California San Diego for the 7th Annual UCSD pow wow, on Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, 2017. They all received a big-hearted welcome.

“What’s special about our pow wow is we crown a UCSD princess and she earns a $1,000 scholarship to continue in higher education,” chair of the Native American Student Alliance and pow wow organizer Burgundy Fletcher, Peoria, said.

Fletcher, an ethnic studies major who will graduate from UCSD next month, explained the goal of the pow wow “is to bring people here, make them feel welcomed on campus, and for the young people, especially Natives, to feel this is a place they can come to college eventually.”

First-time pow wow goer Marielle Teng, a UCSD political science freshman, said she and her friend heard about the pow wow and decided to give it a chance. “I noticed they do a lot of hand-shaking and show a lot of respect for their elders, which is really cool. As an Asian American, it’s very similar [to my] culture and it’s good to know everybody respects their elders.”

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Navajo combat veteran Emerson Joe was selling Native Inc. resistance themed t-shirts. “The overall theme is to represent the Native culture and to let our young people know we are still here,” he said while looking over graphic tees featuring Chief Joseph, Manuelito, Sitting Bull and others.

Formerly a combat engineer in the Marine Corps, Joe says he was forever changed after making two trips to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock. He described it as a brutal scene yet one with modern-day indigenous heroes. “Second time I was there in December, it got so cold they couldn’t use the water cannons no more,” Joe said. “That’s when they started shooting us with beanbags, rubber bullets, shotgun pellets with smiley faces on them, and CS gas.”

Joe was encouraged by what he saw at the pow wow and how people were awakening the Native Spirit and the warrior within. “I like the pow wow because it’s bringing history back to the UCSD college students, real history, Native history that is not taught in any college class. So if you really want to know about Native history, come to the pow wow and talk to us.”

One of the more popular attractions of the weekend was the handsome Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star), who joked, “My Indian name is Steve Garcia.” The Tongva/Apache/Yaqui headman hypnotized both the spectators and dancers alike with his highly expressive eagle dance.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star) captivates the powwow with his eagle dance. “It was given to me when I was a young boy,” Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa said of his dance mimicking a great eagle in mid flight. “They told me they kept seeing an eagle dancer and that someday I would be bringing that dance to the people.”

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star) captivates the powwow with his eagle dance. “It was given to me when I was a young boy,” Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa said of his dance mimicking a great eagle in mid flight. “They told me they kept seeing an eagle dancer and that someday I would be bringing that dance to the people.”

“It was given to me when I was a young boy,” Garcia said of his dance that mimics a great eagle in flight. “They told me they kept seeing an eagle dancer and that someday I would be bringing that dance to the people.”

It took the chiseled quinquagenarian five to six years to obtain the necessary eagle parts and feathers from the National Eagle Repository. “When I got those wings and they sent the feathers,” Garcia said that instead of making a bustle, “I brought back that dance.”

Natalia Shaw, Ojibwe, was crowned the new UCSD Pow Wow Princess with much fanfare. The jingle dress dancer graduated earlier in the month from the University of Redlands with a degree in environmental science. “As the pow wow princess, it is my duty to represent the UCSD pow wow in a good way and to be humble, to be social, and to be a role model for young princesses or those aspiring to enter the pow wow circle,” Shaw said after illustrating her plan to attend at least 50 pow wows during her reign.

Before commencing studies for her masters at Northern Arizona University in the fall, Shaw will intern at the Central Arizona Project in the tribal water resources department, where her ultimate goal is to “increase Native representation within environmental policy decisions because environmentalists are making decisions that are impacting Indian country and a lot of time there isn’t Native representation.”

With the sun sinking on the horizon on Day Two, pow wow organizer Fletcher reflected on the natural beauty of the sacred ground beneath her feet. “We have a lot of the local Kumeyaay and Luiseño people here,” she said. “And so, a lot of the people whose homeland this is, they’re dancing and participating today.”

All 2017 UCSD Pow Wow photos by Diego James Robles:

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy dancer Skye McMichael, Luiseño, dances during a late afternoon intertribal.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy dancer Skye McMichael, Luiseño, dances during a late afternoon intertribal.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Jingle dress dancer Carolyn Brien Reyes, Ojibwe/Dakota, competes in the golden age category.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Jingle dress dancer Carolyn Brien Reyes, Ojibwe/Dakota, competes in the golden age category.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Daniel Camacho, 8, Apache/Pascua Yaqui, dances to the beat of the drum during the tiny tots contest.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Daniel Camacho, 8, Apache/Pascua Yaqui, dances to the beat of the drum during the tiny tots contest.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy shawl dancer and a powwow princess Cora Milligan, 17, Barona, dances during an intertribal.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy shawl dancer and a powwow princess Cora Milligan, 17, Barona, dances during an intertribal.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy Shawl dancer Synnaye Walker, Omaha, does laps around the powwow circle during an early intertribal.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Fancy Shawl dancer Synnaye Walker, Omaha, does laps around the powwow circle during an early intertribal.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: A small procession moves through the powwow circle during a special for the head girl Olivia Sheridan, center.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: A small procession moves through the powwow circle during a special for the head girl Olivia Sheridan, center.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Jingle dress dancer Khloe Cote, 6, Diné/Pala, dances during an early intertribal.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Jingle dress dancer Khloe Cote, 6, Diné/Pala, dances during an early intertribal.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Head man Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star), Tongva/Apache/Yaqui, plays with one-year-old Wakinyan Hoton Wanpi Tahan Wa’u Danforth during a break in the powwow action.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Head man Wanblee Ista Wicapi Sapa (The Eagle is Black but the Eye is a Star), Tongva/Apache/Yaqui, plays with one-year-old Wakinyan Hoton Wanpi Tahan Wa’u Danforth during a break in the powwow action.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wakinyan Hoton Wanpi Tahan Wa’u Danforth, 1, runs away from his mother Gina Tiger, Standing Rock/Yankton, while trying to make bubbles just beyond the powwow circle.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Wakinyan Hoton Wanpi Tahan Wa’u Danforth, 1, runs away from his mother Gina Tiger, Standing Rock/Yankton, while trying to make bubbles just beyond the powwow circle.

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Grass dancer Daniel Camacho, 8, Apache/Pascua Yaqui, gets help with his moccasins from his mother Melanie before an intertribal during the 7th Annual UCSD Powwow, on Saturday afternoon, May 20, 2017, in San Diego, Calif.

Diego James Robles

UCSD Pow Wow 2017: Grass dancer Daniel Camacho, 8, Apache/Pascua Yaqui, gets help with his moccasins from his mother Melanie before an intertribal during the 7th Annual UCSD Powwow, on Saturday afternoon, May 20, 2017, in San Diego, Calif.

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  • Erka M.

    I LOVE everything about this magazine!!! It’s one of the best ways to keep up with tribal anything!! I read it almost cover to cover as soon as I get it. I learn a great deal from the magazine & I’m able to keep up with what’s going on & so many things I wouldn’t know otherwise. So I say thank you ever so much for this beautiful & informative magazine. Please keep up the awesome work you do.
    Sincerely, Kathleen Miller…part Cherokee

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Photos: Kumeyaay, Dancers and Hundreds More Flock To UCSD Pow Wow

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