The Richmond Powwow — A Native Tradition That Is Open to All

Photo Essay, David Meza

This year the 7th Annual Richmond Powwow brought together Richmond’s Native community, tribes from all over the country, and community members who wanted to share in and learn about Native culture. The June 18 powwow held at Wendell Park, “Honoring our Youth,” invited people of all nations and hosted vendors, drums, feasting, singing, and dancing.

Officially beginning the event was the eagle staff ceremony to honor the tribe and tradition. The dance contest was open to categories from tiny tots to golden age. Dancers donned their regalia, some showing colorful patterns and textures and others covered in elaborate beading and feathers. The dancers represent more than their culture in their dance, they also represent their community.

For the Head Man Dancer Joe Fox Hopper and his family, it is an honor to wear the regalia and represent their ancestors. Hopper fondly recalls growing up in Richmond and attending powwows as a child and throughout his adolescence. For him the events are an opportunity to celebrate life and the sanctity of Native tradition.

As part of giving back and creating the sense of community and wholeness, families gifted food, toys, candy and other items to attendees.

Richmond Pulse reporter and local activist Isabella Zizi has been responsible for the food at the powwow for the last seven years. She puts love into a family favorite, Indian taco, made from delicious fry bread, beans, meat and cheese, and a dessert of strawberry shortcake fry bread. Growing up in powwow life, Zizi said she was “honored to have the powwow in Richmond bringing together members of different tribes.”

The event was open to the public so individuals of all cultures were able to see and learn about the traditional dance and regalia. The event showed that Native American culture is alive and thriving and that they welcome all people with open arms.

Young artist Jackie Fawn was a volunteer at the fry bread station. She came to Richmond for the powwow from Southern California to end her journey with some great community before she becomes a permanent Bay Area resident. She said the powwow was the perfect way to get to know and connect with new people in an environment of open mindedness and music.

This is the season for powwows so if you missed this one, just search “powwows near me.” It is really that easy. Check one out this summer for great food and great company.

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