25,000 Gather at Morongo to Celebrate Native American Culture

The 27th Annual Thunder & Lightning Powwow attracted more than 900 competitive dancers and 25 drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada. 

Morongo Indian Reservation – An estimated 25,000 spectatorsgathered to celebrate Native American culture and traditions at the 27th Annual Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow on Sept. 22-24 beside the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, near Palm Springs, CA.

More than 900 Native American dancers and 25 professional drum groups from across the U.S. and Canada took part in the three-day powwow hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. As in past years, the powwow kicked off on Native American Day in California on Friday, Sept. 22.

Throughout the weekend, dancers wearing intricately handcrafted regalia of leather, fine beadwork and brightly-colored feathers competed in a variety of events that displayed the diversity of Native American dance styles.

“Every year, Morongo welcomes thousands of visitors who want to celebrate and experience Native American culture through dance, music and art,” said Tribal Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, “Through our annual powwow, we have the opportunity to share our rich traditions with others while also preserving our heritage for future generations.”

One of the most highly anticipated powwows of the year, the Morongo Thunder & Lightning Powwow included dozens of booths selling authentic Native arts and crafts such as unique jewelry, fine beadwork, and pottery, clothing, and basketry items. Native food vendors also were on hand selling delicious homemade Indian tacos, tamales, and tasty Indian frybread.

Every day was highlighted by the Grand Entry, which transformed the arena into a spectacular swirl of motion and music as hundreds of men, women and children crowded the floor to dance in traditional regalia to the sounds of competitive drum groups and singers. Dancers and drummers scored points during the competitions based on regalia, performance, and other categories.

The powwow also included bird singing and peon games.