California Peoples

topic posted Mon, April 28, 2008 - 3:12 PM by  Anistara
Well, I missed this weekends gathering in favor of choosing which gathering I can attend realistically with the gas crunch and my decision to take the hoop teacher training, so much going on!! Our annual White Blanket Gathering is growing as more Kern Valley Intertribal becomes interested and dedicated in the event, like me. Its a 4 hour drive from where I sit. My hope is that my hooping ventures will allot more free time in the near future to be active with the socials and ceremonies. I'd love to take the language class soon. I may want to take hooping to the cultural center, for the fitness aspect. We'll see how things move along...

Tubatulabals host three days of healing events:

ONYX - The 11th annual White Blanket Spiritual Gathering will feature three days of healing events, including a Bear Dance ceremony.

The gathering is April 25 - 27 on the White Blanket Rancheria near Onyx, in the Kern River Valley (off Highway 178 east of Bakersfield). It is sponsored by the Owens Valley Career Development Center and White Blanket Rancheria.)

The gathering begins with a Health Run/Walk for diabetes awareness, starting at 10 a.m. at the Onyx Emporium, the oldest continuously operated store in California. The walk will continue to the White Blanket Gathering. T-shirts will be given to all runners and walkers who participate.

Gathering events include a community Sweatlodge ceremony; drumming with Walter Hansen, Shoshone-Paiute; Pakaaniil language with Betsy Johnson and Anthony Stone, Tubatulabal hand games with Monty Bengochia, Bishop Paiute; and Bear dancers, Tachi Yokuts.

The Bear Dance was revived by Tachi Yokuts spiritual elder Clarence Atwell Sr., who was given a vision to bring back the Bear Dance to the people for healing. Bear dancers wear bear skins and become the Bear. The Bear takes on the ills of the people assembled and the ills are transmuted into healing power. The dancers are bathed in sage smoke so the dancers themselves don't take on the illnesses.

The Bear Dance is sacred and photographs are not allowed. For more information, call Dee Dee Scott at (760) 378-1032 or Josephine Stone at (760) 417-2618.

...I opted for our Monache Gathering next month since its hosted by family and I couldn't do both this year. Its pretty much the same gathering, but at a higher elevation, so more people from the north head down for cooler weather as well. I look forward to the Bear Dance this year, as ever.
posted by:
  • I love bear. I used to work on the Kern River years ago. I would drive up river and sometimes spot bear walking up the mountain. One year this old bear was caught trash digging at our restaurant every night! She was so beautiful and bold. I caught a good sense of her medicine being only a few feet away from her. She has long held a sacred place in our community, as I get older, I have learned to appreciate the stories and dreams she brings.

    I think most of California central to northern have a bear dance. They're all pretty much the same, different dancers and songs vary, but the medicine is the same, good and strong. Our family grows smudge for this particular event and so each season it carries new ceremony for healing. I am in the bear mode now and find it in particularly uncanny that we moved to Los Osos recently, which means, The Bear.

    More on our annual ceremony/old school way

    The origin of the bear dance is told this way. Two brothers were hunting in the mountains and stopped to rest. One of the brothers saw a bear clawing and singing as he danced around a tree. As one brother went on to hunt the other watched the bear, who taught him the dance and the song. The bear told him to teach this to his people as a sign of respect for the bear's spirit which gives strength.

    The Annual Bear Dance was held in the spring at the first sound of thunder; about the middle of March. But preparation was made all winter: around the campfires the story teller told tales of the way of life and the singers practiced songs which had come in dreams.

    As the time came near the men prepared the Bear Dance arbor and did other necessary work, while the women made the family's clothes for the dance. The bands would come and set up camp.

    After a long winter the festivities began. The men and women would enter the arbor wearing plumes that signified their worries. At the end of the dance on the fourth day, the plumes would be hung on a cedar tree at the east entrance of the arbor and they would leave their troubles behind.

    Cameras are allowed for this social dance.

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