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Three Rivers Pow Wow starts Friday
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For nearly four decades the Three Rivers Indian Lodge has turned its rural Manteca complex into the place to be for Native Americans from throughout the West on Fourth of July weekend.

Traditional dancers and drummers from as far away as Oklahoma travel to participate in the organization’s annual Pow Wow – now in its 38th year – to preserve the heritage and the culture that plays such a crucial role in the Native community.

Tents will dot the front of the North Union Road complex, which serves as a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility for Native American men, starting on Friday morning. Parking along the rural stretch of road becomes nearly impossible to find once the event gets going full-swing.

Its popularity, according to Native Directions Inc.’s bookkeeper Crystal Gallegos, is a direct testament to the desire of those with Native American roots to keep their customs alive.

“It’s very important to us to hold these events because it allows us to keep our customs going and our culture alive,” Gallegos said. “It’s a chance to share that with the world and with one another. It is an event that is open to the public, and we get people from throughout the community coming out to visit and see what it is all about.

“There are a lot of newer homes in the area so we make it a point to invite those people and get them familiar with what is going on – with what all of the commotion over the weekend will be all about.”

According to Gallegos, representatives from the Comanche and Cherokee nations will travel from Oklahoma to participate, as will Washoe Natives from Nevada. The event, she said, is important for the entire Native population of Northern California that will have individual representation at the event.

And everything will be showcased during the three Grand Entry moments – the first of which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, July 3.

Dancers wearing traditional Native American attire – including beads and leatherwork and feathers from various birds steeped in tradition – will make their way into the site’s massive dancing ring while drummers provide an accompanying beat.

The Grand Entry will be repeated on Saturday, July 4 at noon and on Sunday, July 5 at 1 p.m.

Three Rivers Indian Lodge is located at 13505 N. Union Road. Those looking to participate or observe the events are encouraged to arrive early to secure parking. The event is free although donations are accepted, and those planning on camping in a first-come, first-served area are asked to make a $10 donation.