Angel Two Feathers makes his way around the grounds of the Three Rivers Indian Lodge spreading white sage among the elders, the tribal people, and the regular folk alike.
It’s a tradition to cleanse the spirits, and ward off evil. It is an opening day routine that has been a regular feature of the annual Fourth of July Powwow for the last 29 years.
Three Rivers Executive Director Ramona Valadez noted people have traveled from as far away as Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Montana to partake in the three-day festivities that include native dancing, traditional food, and a chance for people to take in the culture that has been dwindling over the course of the last several generations.
“We put this on every year so that we can work our outreach into the community and share our culture,” Valadez said. “Diversity is good, and we want people to come out and enjoy our event.”
In order to keep with Native American tradition, a community feed will be held today at 5:30 p.m. and will feature authentic foods for all of those who attend – free of charge.
For those who want to bring something home, both traditional and cultural vendors are on site – as is a snack bar that offers native fry bread and Indian tacos as a way to share their culture with the public.
The event at 13505 Union Road less than a mile north of Lathrop Road and Del Webb at Woodbridge continues today from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And while plenty of tribes are represented, Tom Cain – a Modesto resident who considers himself part Indian – makes the trip every year to get closer to his roots.
“As part Indian, I come out every year to pay tribute to the elders, gather with other Indians, and enjoy the sound of the drums,” Cain said. “I like the smell of the sage and the cedar, and I enjoy seeing the little ones hopefully having the traditions passed on to them.
“Things have been going downhill for Indians, and it’s nice to see some of the traditions being acted out right before you.”