Visitors to Warner Creek Correctional Facility on Saturday, Sept. 28, enjoyed a day-long celebration of Native American
cultural heritage and tradition in the form of a Pow Wow event coordinated by WCCF Chaplain Ken Ball.
The event served as a major showcase of the WCCF facility’s Native American Cultural Program, which serves to promote healing, spirituality and the restoration of cultural identity. The Pow Wow was first held in 2008 and 2009, followed by a couple of years off before its return in 2012.
“It is a family-centered feast and celebration,” Ball said, noting that the event emphasizes reunion with families and reinforcing cultural values.
A considerable number of visitors turned out for the event early that morning, with the check-in station bustling with Pow Wow participants as well as family members arriving to visit their loved ones in custody.
Serving as the event’s master of ceremonies was Val ShadowHawk, who came all the way from the Sacramento area to provide a lively narration and explanation of the varied segments, as well as discussing their significance.
Numerous WCCF adults-in-custody distributed warm blankets to the audience prior to the start of the event due to the chilly, blustery weather conditions.
The itinerary for the day included a number of performances that featured traditional dancing and singing to Native American drum circles. The drumming groups included Thoz Womenz out of Alturas, Calif., and U-No-Le, who traveled all the way from the Bay Area of northern California to attend.
The Round Dance is slow in format, featuring alternating clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation that can be enjoyed by everyone in attendance. Ball said this is typically a dance performed as a closing number.
Childrens’ games included a ring toss and musical chairs, truly encompassing a multi-generational component to the event’s spectrum, Ball said.
A barbecued lunch continued with the emphasis on cultural tradition, with venison, salmon, fry bread, Indian tacos, elk burgers and buffalo burgers included on the menu for the day.
The event featured a variety of nations represented, though Ball noted that the Klamath Tribes was likely the most-represented at this year’s Pow Wow.
Along with the musical and dance performances, a raffle giveaway ceremony was also held, which reflected the importance of gift-giving as a part of the culture, Ball said.
Warner Creek Correctional Facility has an extensive Native American program that is active with a variety of activities held on a regular basis. These activities range from traditional beading to the monthly sweat lodge purification and prayers session.
Ball said that the program and activities make a positive difference in the lives of the men who participate.
“I think it has a good effect on the men,” he said. “It tends to make a difference in their behavior and attitudes… probably peacefulness is the biggest difference that I see.”
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