NORTH FORK – The nonprofit Sierra Mono Museum invites one and all to share in a celebration of heritage and culture at the 48th Annual Indian Fair Days & Pow Wow, held again this year at Minarets High School, on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 – 5. The event is said to be the longest-running pow wow in the state of California.
North Fork is home to many members of the Mono, a tribe who has lived in the Sierra Nevada area for centuries.
Organizers at the Sierra Mono Museum say the origins of pow wow have risen from economic, social, and cultural experiences of many Native American tribes. These cultural celebrations provide opportunities for people to come together in song and dance, make friends, renew old alliances, and enjoy arts and crafts.
For many, pow wows have spiritual and religious significance. Nowadays, pow wows are intertribal, with older ways brought forth into the present day and age, helping to solidify Indian communities and promote traditional customs. In addition to the North Fork Mono, members of other tribes from California and throughout the nation also participate.
The weekend-long North Fork occasion instills and elevates pride in Native and non-native families, giving all generations the chance to display their traditional heritage. Contestants showcase skills and intricate regalia during the two-day dance competition, headed up by Master of Ceremonies Frankie Williams and Arena Director J R Manuel.
Pow wow attendees enjoy traditional music, competitive dancing, food and native craft vendors. Gates open at 9 a.m. and the grand entry is at noon on Saturday and Sunday. The cost to attend is $2 per person in advance or $5 at the gate. Kids 12 and under may enter at no charge.
“This is a community event that promotes and instills pride in our Native and non-native families,” say organizers. “Our Pow Wow gives our younger generations a chance to dance and celebrate our rich traditional history and culture. When we began the Pow Wow and Fair Days in 1971, it started as a fundraiser.”
Indian Fair Days & Pow Wow is a principal fundraiser for the Sierra Mono Indian Museum, currently undergoing renovation. The museum holds one of the largest California Indian basket collections, as well as displays of native art and cultural artifacts, and exhibits featuring the diversity of wildlife in the area.