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Powwow continues today & Sunday
Three Rivers Indian Lodge Powwow Princess Taylor Fountain, right, is shown standing with other princesses before entering the arena on Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• WHAT: 35th annual Three Rivers Powwow complete with traditional dances, ceremonies, vendors, and food
• WHEN: Today, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6:30 p.m.
• WHERE: Three Rivers Lodge on North Union Road north of Manteca
• DIRECTIONS: The lodge on Union Road is a mile north of Lathrop Road

Eric Kimple enjoys coming back to Three Rivers Lodge.

The Hayward resident was back in Manteca Friday to serve as emcee of the annual Powwow celebrating its 35th year.

This year’s theme is “Restoring Harmony.”

The powwow is free to the public and continues through the weekend.

Kimple shared with those in attendance – included were Native Americans from throughout California and other states – the background behind some of the traditions.

Take the gourd dance and songs.

 “The gourd dance is to honor our service men and women,” he said.

Kimple added that the traditional gourd songs originated from the Southern Plains centuries ago.

“It was brought back in the middle of last century,” he said. “(The gourd songs) are part of our growing, living culture.

“It continues to grow and change with the times but the essence stays the same.”

As part of his duties, he introduced the dancers in full regalia during the Powwow Grand Entry into the arena.

“The arena is a place for everyone,” said Kimple, who is one-fourth Blackfeet and dances Oklahoma straight.

Henry Johnson of the Paiute tribe and Nevada served as this year’s arena director.

“This is a time to bring harmony among people,” he said, echoing this year’s powwow theme.

Gene Ray of the Red Buffalo-Southern Drum was among the notables. He’s a lead singer chosen for his ability by the song creator. “None of the songs are written down but the lead remembers the words,” Kimple said.

The Northern Eagle-Northern Drum from Chico also took part in gourd songs.

Paul Flores IV of Santa Clara and part Apache and Yaqui was recognized as Head Man while Orena Monahan of the Quechan tribe and Winterhaven was the Head Lady.

This year’s princess is Taylor Fountain, 15, of Brentwood. She took over from Frances Ochoa, who was the outgoing princess.

The Three Rivers Powwow continues today with gourd dancing at 11 a.m. A tiny tot exhibit and more singing and dancing will continue throughout the evening.

On Sunday, the powwow cherishing the tradition of past generations will go from noon to 6:30 p.m.

The event is usually held on Fourth of July but was moved to the weekend since Independence Day fell in the middle of the week.

In addition, dozens of vendor booths featuring Native American arts and crafts along with foods such as Indian tacos will be available during the weekend.

Three Rivers Lodge is located at 13505 Union Road. More information can be obtained by calling (209) 858-2421.