The 21st Annual Morongo Thunder and Lightning Pow Wow commenced Friday night with a Grand Entry of sound and pageantry outside the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
Hundreds of competitive dancers and drummers in hand-crafted regalia gave Native American traditions from across the United States and Canada new life in a pulsating show of pride and welcome.
Danita Goodwill, 37, a member of the Osage Nation from Fairfax, Oklahoma, tried to describe the anticipation just before the Grand Entry a little after 8 p.m. Friday.
"Me and my husband spent more than a year making this," Goodwill said of her hand-beaded, buckskin regalia. "It is a great moment, as you can see all the people here."
As night fell, scores of dancers and drummers mingled outside the large venue tent set up with bleachers for hundreds of people who came to watch and applaud.
Marissa Two Two, half Tohono O'odham and half Lakota, from Tucson, Arizona, and Farica Prince, Lakota from Sioux Valley, Manitoba in Canada, said the Thunder and Lightning Pow Wow is a reunion for many.
"It is a big family at the pow wow," Two Two said. "We are happy to be here."
The three-day pow wow is a celebration of Native American dance, music and culture.
Each day features Color Guard Grand Entry parades, followed by flag ceremonies, then dance and drum contests.
Admission to the Morongo Thunder and Lightning Pow Wow is free.
"There are no 'spectators' at a Pow Wow," Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin and tribal council members said in a welcome statement. "All who attend are regarded as participants. Each of us has a place in the circle of people. Within this circle there is no beginning and no end. This coming together is at the heart of the traditional Pow Wow."
More Grand Entries are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Morongo Indian Market features Native vendors selling Indian tacos, tamales, Indian frybread, and lamb stew. Artisans are selling authentic Native arts and crafts, including one-of-a-kind jewelry, beadwork, pottery, clothing and basketry items.
Scheduled event hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit 2011powwow.
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is at 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon.