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Three Rivers staging 4th of July Powwow
A dancer at a previous 4th of July Three Rivers Indian Lodge Powwow shows off his full regalia. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The youth will be the central focus of the 37th annual Three Rivers Indian Lodge 4th of July Powwow.

“We’re honoring children this year because it’s the youth who will carry on our (Native American) traditions to the next generation,” said Three Rivers executive director Ramona Valadez.

The three-day event, which draws hundreds of visitors not only from the local area but throughout California as well as other states in the country, will start Friday, July 4, through Sunday, July 6. It will take place on the grounds of Three Rivers Indian Lodge on North Union Road between Lathrop Road and French Camp Road.

Starting the ball rolling will be a Grand Entry ceremony on Friday, July 4, at 6 o’clock. The evening will conclude at about 10 p.m. Saturday, July 5, will begin with gourd dancing at 11 a.m. followed the Grand Entry at 1 p.m. The day’s events which will feature dancers and drums will conclude at around 11 p.m. On Sunday, the Grand Entry will start the last day’s events at 1 p.m. More dancing and drums are slated until about 6 o’clock in the evening.

In addition to the usual booths offering a wide variety of Native American jewelry and various artifacts, there will be the traditional meal offered. The Lodge also will be selling, as usual, Indian tacos which they hold every year in conjunction with the powwow.

“It’s our main fund-raiser. Because we’re a non-profit organization, any money we make, we put it back into the event. That’s how we raise the money to put on this powwow. There’s a reason why we’re the only food booth here (during the powwow) – because all the money goes back into this event,” Valadez explained.

In previous years, the Three Rivers Fourth of July Powwow has honored all veterans and other members of the community.

In addition to honoring the youth as the theme of this year’s powwow, Valadez said they will be “choosing a couple of families who have raised their children to carry on our cultural tradition.

“There are a lot of families who do that, yes, but we are going to use them as a symbol of Native American families who do carry on that tradition. They also raise their children to carry on our heritage and our culture.”

She said these two families will be recognized during the weekend festivities.

One of the ways these families teach their children to honor their culture and traditions is to “teach (them) to be respectful to the elderly, and when they put on their regalia to dance (at the powwow), it’s not just something fancy. It means that the minute they put their foot in the arena to dance, that they’re going to respect it. They don’t start acting out and running across; they’re not suppose to that,” Valadez explained.

“It’s a family event; the whole family (is there), even the babies,” she added.

In fact, she said, “some of the kids made (their costumes) themselves, and they’re very proud to get out there and dance their culture.”

The powwow is open to the public free of charge; however, because the Three Rivers Indian Lodge is a residential treatment center for alcohol and drug addiction for Native American men, no alcohol or drugs are strictly not allowed on the premises.