Photos by Raiza Giorgi

By Raiza Giorgi

Native American dancers and other tribal members from far and wide displayed their cultural heritage and talents in drumming, dancing and other artistry during the 24th annual Chumash Inter-Tribal Pow-Wow at Live Oak Camp in the Santa Ynez Valley on the weekend of Oct. 5-6.

The pow-wow held a grand entry on Saturday and Sunday, in which all dancers entered single-file behind flags.

The annual ceremony is hosted by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and draws more than 300 members of tribal nations from across the United States and Canada.

“I love coming here to celebrate the Chumash and Indian culture and visit with family and friends from other tribes,” said Lacee Lopez of the Santa Barbara Coastal Chumash tribe.

Lopez helps out her family every year with selling wares and making jewelry. She loves her family’s connection with the ocean and has crossed to the Channel Islands 11 times in canoes.

“I love the freedom of paddling and seeing the dolphins. It’s as close as we can get to our ancestors,” Lopez added.

This year, Lopez noted, she also joined in the dancing.

Dancing categories include traditional, straight, fancy, grass, jingle dress, buckskin and cloth dancing. More than $50,000 in prize money is offered.

The event also offers Native American food and craft booths.

The pow-wow started with a gourd dance at noon Saturday, followed by a grand entry at 1 p.m. marking the beginning of the pow-wow, in which all dancers enter single-file behind flags. The grand entry was repeated on Sunday.

The master of ceremonies provided directions for the dancers and the public and information about the songs, competitions and dances.

The pow-wow is an annual effort of a committee of Chumash tribal volunteers who plan, organize and operate the gathering.

The committee’s goal is to provide the community with educational and cultural experiences focusing on Native American music, arts and customs while also promoting native self-reliance and pride.