Hundreds of Native American dancers dressed in full regalia of leather, fine
beadwork and feathers moved skillfully to form a sea of swirling color, motion and music during
dance competitions at the popular 22nd Annual Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow last
An estimated 30,000 spectators attended the free three-day cultural celebration hosted by the
Morongo Band of Mission Indians from Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30. Over the course of
the weekend, more than 650 Native American dancers of all ages and 25 drum groups from across
the U.S. and Canada competed for prize money.
“The Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow celebrates the diversity of Native American culture and
helps to preserve Native American traditions,” said Tribal Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo
Band of Mission Indians. “We are delighted every year to see so many visitors and families joining us to
experience the beauty of Native American dance and music, and to learn about Native American
culture, food and arts and crafts.”
One of the most highly anticipated powwows of the year, the Morongo Thunder & Lightning
Powwow included dozens of booths selling authentic Native arts and crafts, including one of a kind
jewelry, fine beadwork, and unique pottery, clothing, and basketry items.
Native food vendors were on hand selling homemade Indian tacos, tamales and popular Indian
Morongo’s annual celebration of Native American culture was highlighted by the daily Grand Entry, a
tradition that signifies the opening of each Powwow session. The event began with the presentation of
colors, including an Eagle Staff, the American flag, the California state flag and the Morongo tribal flag.
Morongo 22nd Annual Thunder and Lightning Powwow
Following the introduction of visiting tribal dignitaries, the arena quickly transformed into a spectacular
sight as hundreds of men, women and children dancing in traditional regalia moved to the sounds of
competitive drum groups and singers.
The dance troupes and drummers scored points based on regalia, performance and other categories.
The Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow also included exhibitions of gourd dancing and bird
The bird songs and dances of the Cahuilla Indians chronicle the experiences and responses of the
Cahuilla people as they migrated south. Through bird metaphor and allegory, the songs also act as
lessons that instruct tribal members about stages in their lives.
The original Cahuilla Bird Songs were composed of more than 300 pieces that formed a cycle of
stories. Songs were sung in a precise order that accurately accounted for the chronology of the
The 22nd Annual Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow was held at the Morongo Event Center
alongside the Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa.