Ehwa Shadows at the 513th Grunion Festival
By Roy Cook

Auka, is a greeting of hello- this new day, in the original American language of these shores. The Kumeyaay Ehwa, summer shelter habitat, on the sand of Pacific Beach this Sunday July 13, 2003 marked the passage of time. Time as we regard it in our everyday functions of life. Time could also be regarded as the continuing overlapping human experiences much as the waves unendingly pounding the sands of the Pacific Beach shore.
The Ehwa is a summer home and can symbolize a historic time and sundial of the day and the events. Just as these observations are reflections of the experiences presented at the Grunion festival. Organized by Abel Silvas: Native American/Californio, whose ancestry comes from the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians of the Acjachemen Nation and is a direct descendant from the Silvas Family, one of the first Spanish families to settle in Southern California.
An actor, mime and comedian, Abel studied mime under Marcel Marceau and appears in comedy clubs as a stand-up comedian. He and Joyce Perry share the logistics of the event thru Payomkawichum Kaamalm, the Western first people of Earth Mother. Joyce is the Tribal Manager and Repatriation Consultant. She is also involved with education as the President of Payomkawichum Kaamalam, a non-profit educational organization. This year the great people of the Viejas Tribal Council sponsor the Grunion festival. Their support, water and continued encouragement of the event are greatly appreciated!

Warm sun made the day flexible and time is soft. Drifting back and looking forward. We are there and here from moment to moment. Swaying like the seaweed, close to shore and sometimes on the shore. Sitting in the sun as the cultural exhibits at the Grunion Festival. Barona Museum and Kumeyaay basket weaving is being demonstrated, as there are also cultural examples of the Calfornia tribal art on display.
Richard Bugbee, Payoomkawichum (Luiseno) has a wide selection of cultural art on display. Also,very popular is the children activities presentation by Silvia, Berta, and Mindy, there are many wondrous clay creations produced. Fish images were most realistic and fantasic.

The Grunion Festival is free and great entertainment: Pacific Islander dancing open the event. Bill Neal, regional and very popular Cherokee Flautist was the first to put those haunting notes that touch the heart into the air. Comedian, Drew Lacapa, Apache, follows him. We enjoyed his fun view of tribal life and especially those ‘directional lips’. Eduardo Garcia, Berta Villa-Exuse and Kim Emerson presented the music of Vera Cruz: song, instrument and dance accompanied by the dancing of the very versatile Abel Silvas. The spirited regional folk song, La Bamba, was a great hit.


Jon Meza Cuero next took the stage and brought the afternoon into sharp focus. Jon related his background as a singer and native speaker of Kumeyaay. Jon Cuero is a Master and lead singer of Nyemii- Wildcat song and has extensive experience with many of the other styles of Tipai song. Through his life experience and by circumstance and politics, he is a participant observer of the dynamics at work defining the International traditional song style in the Kumeyaay, Ipai, Tipai and extended territory. As a teacher, Jon strongly emphasizes the need to learn the tune first. He spoke in Tipai, Mexican/Spanish and English. He introduced Evadisto Adams, Tipai and his students, Ben Nance and Roy Cook, Opata/Osage.

Artist information and booking for performance contact: E-MAIL

Jose Rivera entered in character, portraying the life and times of Antonio Garra, Cupeno. Garra was a Cupeno Indian who led the 1851 Indian tax revolt in Southern California. Garra was also known as a fighter for Indian rights such as due process in the American judicial system. Unfortunately he was unfairly tried and killed for his brave efforts because he was the leader of his people, like so many Indian leaders throughout the country were. He did not receive due process in the American judicial system.
Jose continued, "Many people say the California Indians are now extinct. When you come to something like this, the Grunion Festival or the Earth Renewal Dance, you start seeing that in reality, California Indians have never disappeared, and that through the tenacity of the culture they have made California today the hotbed for federal tribal recognition nationally. There are more cases of pending federal tribal recognition in California than any other state in the union."
Jose further stated, "A lot of those cases were based out of the Determination Period because they were previously recognized as sovereign people and it just so happened that a lot of the problems the California Indians have faced in contemporary times are because of John Warner. John Warner was the first Senator of California. He led the California Caucus to not ratify the 18 treaties signed in California. John Warner was the one who put the Injunction of Secrecy over that failure to ratify those 18 treaties for 50 years. So, Warner had quite a bit to do with the situation of the California Indians even today. It was because of the selfishness of Mr. Warner. He wanted the Hot Springs, he wanted the village, Cupa and that is pretty much how the California Indians were generally treated statewide."

Evadisto Adams, Tipai sang the songs of Baja California in a solo presentation.

Gloria Castaneda, Tipai and basketweaver presented her unique interpretation of the traditional Tipai songs from San Jose de la Zorra. Both are greatly appreciated and very well received.

Robert Tree Cody, Maricopa and Dakota, internationally known Native American flutist emerged from the ocean refreshed and ready to once again dazzle the audience with his gracious virtuosity and musicianship. He and Hovia Edwards, Okanokan and Shoshone-Bannock sang a magnificent selection of their new release Reflections. They presented traditional songs and original compositions. All very delightful and moving, especially their dueling flutes number.
The waves were loud and crashing close by and the tide is moving in. The grunion will be two days delayed this year. The dusk shadows and the rising full moon indicate it is time for all of us to return to our Ehwas and dream about the next Grunion Festival. Maybe we will see you there. Mehan, thank you.
Roy Cook: writer, public relations, speaker Opata/Osage-Mazopioye Wichasha
Ben Nance: WebMaster and Photos