Mama Aneka did not need to say the words.
Her face was bursting with pride as she watched her dancing grandson’s fancy footsteps with eyes shining bright and with a grin that literally stretched from ear to ear.
But she said the words that anybody could read on her face anyway: “I’m a proud grandma!”
The apple of her eyes inside the dancing arena where all tribal dancers were processing inside the powwow tent at Three Rivers Lodge was two-year-old Jayden (God Has Heard) Jaramillo. Mama Aneka described her grandson as part Paiute, Apache and Pueblo Indian. She said his Native American last name is Chenareh, “red tree in Paiute.”
Little Jayden was dancing with his uncle Marcos Mandrill. The two of them wore almost identical Northern Traditional dance outfits, with Mandrill’s looking a lot more elaborate.
Mama Aneka, who is from Livermore, said this is the family’s fifth powwow of the season.
Jayden was one of several youngsters not quite seven years old who took an active part in this year’s intertribal dancing during the 29th year of the Three Rivers Lodge’s Fourth of July Powwow.
The youngest was 10-month-old Murphy McCloud who appeared nonplussed as he sat on the lap of his father, Jupjupicus McCloud, during the drum and song numbers. The McClouds are of the Wintu tribe. Seated next to the McClouds was Morgan Snow, a Pomo Indian, whose daughter Nobalie Snow, 5, stood next to him and joined in the singing. Like the rest of the grand entry participants, Nobalie wore a bright dancer’s outfit.
Then there was the Valenzuela family made up of Chilito and his wife Jennifer and their sons Nolan and Brent. Four-year-old Nolan and his father donned matching Northern Traditional outfits made mainly out of feathers. Six-year-old Brent wore a bright and colorful grass dancer outfit.
“We made them,” a smiling Jennifer said of the ornate costumes, her finger pointing to her husband and their two sons.
Three Rivers Indian Lodge executive director Ramona Valadez said the increased number of powwow participants is due to the change in demographics during the last few years.
“There are more Native Americans in Manteca than ever before,” said Valadez, who thinks it was the foreclosures that brought many of them here.
“The foreclosures happened and they came and bought houses,” she said.
She remembered a time in the last decade when Manteca Unified School listed only “about 200 (Native American) families.” Now, there are about 500 of them, and that’s just the school children.
“That doesn’t count the families – and they could be babies, grandma, grandpa, uncle and aunt and cousins all living at home,” she said.
“If there are four Native Americans in one family, that’s 2,000 people. In Stockton this year, they listed 2,100 kids in Stockton Unified. In all the other (San Joaquin) county towns, their numbers have doubled too,” she said.
“So in the new census coming up, you are going to find out there’s a lot more (Native American) people than ever before here in the county. Even Ripon has a group of (Native Americans) living there now,” where there were only five families a few years ago, Valadez said.
Valadez said her best “guesstimate” of this Fourth’s powwow “over the three days” was 3,000 people – “but it could be more.”
Thanks to Facebook publicity, some of the attendees came as far as South Dakota and Arizona, she said.