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white light, white heat © Robert Sommers 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

San Luis Rey Pow Wow

I photographed the Pow Wow at San Luis Rey Mission yesterday, an annual event sponsored by the San Luis Rey band of Mission Indians.







I didn't shoot the Pow Wow last year and really wanted to do it again.

I love the color, beauty and pageantry of the event. It is obviously very important in educating native youth in the immense vibrancy and rich traditions of their tribal culture.


People forget that San Diego County has more separate native reservations than any other county in the United States, eighteen.


We have four principal tribes here, Cahuilla, Cupeno, Luiseno and Kumeyaay.



The Luiseño of the San Luis Rey Valley, like the Cupeño, got royally screwed by the invading conquest.

Their fertile homeland in Oceanside was too valuable to give back as a reservation. They are a scattered diaspora, now separated from their ancestral holdings.

The Cupa, after having their land stolen, lost a supreme court decision in the late 1800's and had to move in with the Pala.

Conquering people the world over have a strange little trick, they site their religious dwelling right on top of the church or temple they have just vanquished.

Happened at the kiva at Acoma, the Mosque of Omar was built directly on top of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and I have no doubt it happened here at San Luis Rey when the Spanish arrived.

Easy to figure out. The natives always find and live near the best real estate.

Watched a lot of dancing yesterday, lots of singers and drummers. Really felt privileged to be there and allowed to photograph on a pretty hot day.

I recognized quite a few dancers from other dances. Talked to a few and let them know I had good pics of them from prior years.

People could not have been nicer all day.


I bought a t-shirt from the Rez Riders, a native motorcycle club.

Really nice fellows.


Saw all ages, some low key, some spiffed out.


If you have never been to a dance or Pow Wow, do so, especially if you are a visual person, tough to beat.

I wandered around the Mission a little bit, walked through the Museum, visited with my dear friend Corrie who works there.

The pepper tree that you see in the right of this picture is the oldest pepper in California, the seeds were brought by a sailor from Peru and planted by Father Peyri in 1830.

Even though I am not a native, these people make me feel proud to be an American.

I love the opportunity the Pow Wow gives me to get a glimpse of their proud and rich tradition.

I'm sorry, I took over 1100 pictures. I could kill you with them but I will try not to. So much to share. Let me know if you like them and perhaps I will post some more.

I personally find them so beautiful.

There are quite a few booths selling food, jewelry, merchandise. Worth checking out.


I can't wait for the next one. Hope you don't burn out on the stuff.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The inhabitants of the Pechanga Reservation in Riverside county are Luiseño Indians.

Blue Heron said...

Yes as are many at Pala. I think that there are seven reservations with Lusisenos. My point is that they were denied a reservation in the San Luis Rey valley. See here.http://www.slrmissionindians.org/about/

Anonymous said...

👍great photos btw!