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Eastern Mono Pow Wow

Festival Event
Men's traditional dance. All photo's Sierra High School Eastern Mono Pow Wow 2010, except for the last picture. – Susan Leeper

ADA Accessibility Notes

The Pow Wow is ADA accessible.

Ages Festival is Appropriate For

All ages

Proudly known as the Chieftains, Sierra High School is host to the culturally rich Eastern Mono Indian Pow Wow, held annually on the first Saturday and Sunday in March. Drum circles, beautiful regalias, traditional and Aztec dances, and dozens of vendors make for an engaging weekend as Native American tribes gather to celebrate their cultural heritage in the southern Sierra Nevada. The Grand Entry honor guard and the healing prayers of the Elders to mark the perseverance of brotherly cooperation are inspiring.

The handsome copper skinned Mono who celebrate at this Pow Wow are originally from Nevada and were known as the Monanche, meaning Piute on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. Frontier construction workers pouring into the foothills to work in the start up towns of Tollhouse and Auberry shortened the natives name to Mono. Discouraged from speaking their native language and encouraged to adopt other things, like pioneer dress and religion, the American Indian tribe guardedly shared their survival skills with the new comers. They taught men how to fish for 50 pound Chinook King Salmon by lowering themselves on ropes into the deepest pools. There are stories of Native women who would swim babies and young children across fast moving rivers as the pioneers struggled to ford the streams. While the pioneers were tough and strong, they were not as strong as the American Indians who could not afford to waste a single arrow or be caught in a snow storm while crossing the Sierra Nevada on horseback.

The modern Pow Wow at historic Sierra High School located in Tollhouse, is a celebration of tribal roots; a gathering of the original people who have been scattered in the four directions. The medicinal power of smouldering sage, the trance-like beat of the drum and jingle dancers honor the traditions of a bygone era, but one whose spiritual insights are in need of revival. Started as a senior project by Yalanda Walker for American Indian scholarships, the Eastern Mono Pow Wow is now an annual event. For three years, at each celebration over 1,500 contestants, students, and community members have filled the Chieftain gym to dance and drum. Fifty five vendor's and nine drum circles last year came from as near as Porterville in the valley and as far away as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Sacramento, and Oregon. Add to that the logistic details of camping, and the Pow Wow demonstrates impressive organizational skills for a high school senior. Preferring donations over an admission fee, the intention of the organizers is to reach out to the community at large and to welcome everyone to celebrate as one people and one contemporary tribe, as indeed we are.

Pet Friendly Notes

Service pets only.


Admission Fee (if any)