California State University, Long Beach, is situated on Gabrieleno/Tongva land, and as a result of this close relationship between the university and the Gabrieleno/Tongva people, the campus is home to one of the oldest, and the largest, pow wows of in Southern California.
On Saturday, March 12, the university’s annual Pow Wow returns to the central squad on campus. Cal State Long Beach’s annual pow wow is presented by their American Indian Studies Program and the American Indian student council, among others. Cal State Long Beach has used their location on Indian land as a driving force behind their focus on teaching, and displaying, the strong American Indian presence in Southern California. Admission to the pow wow is free.
The CSU Long Beach Pow Wow starts at 11:00 am on Saturday the 12th with Gourd dancing, a traditional Kiowa warrior dance that has seen its influence, and style, spread and change as its moved across the country. The Gourd dancing is not a part of the competition, but rather acts as an opener for each day of the event. Following the Gourd dancing is the Grand Entry at 1 pm (there is a grand entry on both days), followed by a special presentation by CSU Long Beach’s American Indian Student Council. A dinner break and a presentation by the Ti’at Society, the indigenous maritime community of southern California. Traditionally over the years, the dinner break has also been an opportunity for the Tongva to speak to the attendees about their history in the region. Then at 6 pm. it’s inter-tribal dancing competitions as well as dances that all attendees can participate in, like the Oklahoma two-step or rabbit dance, a social dance of the Northern Arapaho Tribe that originated from the Cree Indians in about 1920. The dance resembles a folk or square dance. The California State University pow wow has strived to make this annual event as interactive as possible, with traditional dances interspersed with opportunities for everyone to get involved. The dancing is followed by the 10 pm. closing where colors are retired and there’s a dance out.
The following day begins again at 11 am. with Gourd dancing, followed by the Grand Entry and finally the closing ceremony, where awards are given, colors are retired and there’s a final dance out.
Native foods will be available, from mutton and beef stew to Navajo tacos, fry bread and Indian burgers. American Indian vendors will be selling both traditional and contemporary American Indian art.