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23rd Annual Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow Kicks Off

Matt Vanderveer

23rd Annual Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow Kicks Off

CREATED Sep. 27, 2013

CABAZON - The Morongo Powwow is an event that holds a special place for Native-Americans across the United States plus it's a boost for our local economy.

For some, the 23rd annual Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow was a way to connect to Native- American loved ones who have passed. "My father just recently passed away and I really miss him but I feel like when I’m here, I’m closer to him,” says Granada Hills resident Esther Enriquez.

For others, it was an educational experience. "I came to learn more about the Native-American culture and I’m really looking forward to seeing the opening ceremony with all the different tribes,” says Big Bear Lake resident Deborah Baker.

But for all Powwow goers and more than 300 tribes in attendance, Northern Master of Ceremonies Tom Phillips says, it's a good time. "It brings in hundreds of dancers into the arena with different styles of dance and we celebrate throughout the weekend with all different categories for both men and women."

Plus, the expected 30,000 people help to fill our local hotels and restaurants. "We help bring in recourses. A lot of our people travel and they buy their family needs here in the local area,” says Phillips.

Minus the dancing, rituals and awesome vendors, there was also the scenic backdrop-- an important piece of the Native-American heritage. "When we dance in, near or around mountains, there is a difference that we have with regard to their place in our life and our social structure. They have such significance and meaning that contain our sacred shrines, sacred places that we go to pray, places that we go to connect with higher elements of life,” says Phillips.

Elements of life the tribe hope Americans never forget. "It's paramount we recognize this very important culture-- the first culture of this land,” says Phillips.

"You need to be in touch with your roots. I'm in touch with my roots and I think they should be too. I also think it makes us more interesting people. The more multi-cultural, the more interesting we are,” says Baker.

The event continues through Sunday. Admission and parking are free.