Native Americans celebrate culture

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Andrew De Luna from the Taos Pueblo Tribe of the Navajo Nation performs the Eagle Dance at the 20th annual United San Antonio Powwow Feb. 17. Navajo tradition says the eagle can take their thoughts and prayers to the Great Above and bring the blessings back to Earth. V. Finster

Native Americans attend from across country.

By Sasha D. Robinson

More than 100 people showed up at the 20th annual United San Antonio Pow Wow Feb. 17 at Mission County Park No. 1 to experience and learn about Native American heritage.

Dr. Lee Eagleboy Walters of the Blackfeet Nation of Northwest Montana said when tribes come together in the spring, they talk about newborn babies, people who died and what the tribe is up to, and they bring plenty of food.

Walters, powwow arena director, said he was excited to be here for the event.

“Powwows are not like this setting,” Walters said. “It was a gathering, but usually it was dancing and everything, but it was your own nation. Now it is intertribal where people come from every tribe.”

Walters said he was 4 years old when he started taking part in powwows.

“I am 57 now, and I have danced everywhere like Europe, lived in Japan and on reservations,” Walters said. “I can come to Texas and knock out a dozen in a year. After a while, I stopped counting.”

Powwow is a Native American ceremony involving feasting, singing and dancing.

Juan Soliz Garcia, secretary of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, and his cousin Hector Soliz came from McAllen.

“The weather is too cold for this Indian,” Garcia said. “We came in from McAllen and it was about 81 degrees and now it is 66.”

Garcia said he wants people to know Native Americans are not bloodthirsty savages; he encourages mainstream Americans to learn more about Native American heritage.

“We have engineers, doctors, professors and people in mainstream America,” Garcia said. “Our heritage is not dead and on display in a glass case in a museum.”

The Lipan Apaches began the ceremony with the Gourd Dance.

Head dancers Sebastian Morado and Nicole Bowsley, lead the Grand Entrance dance at the 20th annual United San Antonio Powwow Feb. 17 at Mission County Park #1. Traditionally, once the dancers enter the drum circle, all participants may enter the enclosure to dance. V. Finster

According to the article “The Kiowa began ‘Gourd Dance’” by Dennis W. Zotigh at, the Gourd Dance originated among the Kiowa Indians in the 1700s.

A Kiowa warrior, weak and separated from his camp, learned the dance from a red wolf, which stood on its hind legs and danced.

After each song, the wolf let out a strong howl.

When the warrior regained strength, the wolf instructed him to take the song and dance back to his people as a gift.

At the end of each dance, the participants let out a howl to recognize the red wolf that gave the Kiowas the dance.

Madison Banda, 12, who has been dancing in the powwow since she was 1 year old, did the Jingle Dress Dance.

The Jingle Dress Dance is a prayer dance, according to the article; “Origins of the Jingle Dress Dance” from The dance came from a young woman named Maggie White who was sick with no signs of recovering.

Maggie’s father received a vision of a dress and dance in a dream. When he made the dress and put his daughter in it, he instructed her to perform the dance, which cured her.

Though the event was festive, Soliz remembered the sad events of history.

“The biggest genocide in history did not happen in Nazi Germany, but it happened on American soil,” Soliz said.

“Ninety million Native Americans were slaughtered. We talk about the genocide in Germany but not about the one in the United States.”

Call Erwin De Luna, president of the United San Antonio Pow Wow, at 210-736-3702 or visit


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