Moorpark College student to dance key part in Powwow (2012) Ventura County Star, CA - Our Indigenous Traditions

Moorpark College student to dance key part in Powwow (2012) Ventura County Star, CA

Johnny Nieto, a linebacker for the Moorpark College football team, holds the handset of four bald eagle feathers given to him by a family member that he uses when dressed in full regalia as a representative of the Tule River Indian Reservation. Nieto will be head man dancer this weekend at the Redbird Children of Many Colors Intertribal Powwow.


What: Redbird Children of Many Colors Intertribal Powwow When: 6-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday Where: Moorpark College athletic field, 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark Information:, 217-0364

Cost: $2 donation per vehicle suggested to benefit Redbird

The ultimate goal of Johnny Nieto, a 19-year-old football player at Moorpark College who is majoring in business administration, is to lead the Tule River Tribal Council. "I got a full-ride scholarship from my tribe to attend college. My tribe is Tule River Yokuts," said Nieto, of Simi Valley, who is from the Tule River Indian Reservation in Porterville. Nieto will be the head man dancer at the Redbird Children of Many Colors Intertribal Powwow, which will be Friday through Sunday on the athletic field at Moorpark College. The head man "is a main position and you rarely see a dancer at a young age, me at 19, being head staff," Nieto said. Corina Roberts, event organizer and founder of Redbird, said: "Johnny is a role model for young people, but it's not a role he's playing; it's really who he is. He's living his life in two worlds, respecting and keeping sacred the traditions of the Tule River people and thriving in the modern world at the same time. He is living proof that you don't need to sacrifice your culture and your land and your family to exist in today's world." Nieto's dance style is called the grass dance, which represents praying, healing and giving strength to others in need, he said. "I dance for my people and others who need strength in life," he said. The colors he wears are orange and green, and are from Porterville High School, which he attended. "The symbol I wear is Tule River's own Big Foot. Big Foot is my grandfather spirit the late Marcus Hunter, former tribal chairman. My regalia represents Tule River and Porterville," he said.

Nieto's partner will be the head woman dancer, Kristian Smith of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, Roberts said. Smith and Nieto will host the Iron Man and Iron Woman Dance Contest, "a test of strength, endurance and skill as the drums sing, without stopping, song after song, until just one dancer remains in the arena," Roberts said. The event also will feature arts and crafts vendors and craft suppliers who offer jewelry, art, crafting supplies, books, musical instruments and gift items, Roberts said. "We have a number of award-winning and well-known artists and musicians, as well as vendors of high-quality crafting supplies such as glass seed beads and semiprecious stones," Roberts said. Other highlights will include the unveiling of a spear point that master flint-knapper Gary Pickett is creating as a fundraiser for Redbird. "The point is hand-knapped from a brilliantly colored slab of rainbow obsidian, and over 18 inches long," Roberts said. Additionally, Alan Salazar of the Chumash Nation, and Randall Hogue of the Miniconjou Lakota Nation, will tell traditional stories at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Ultimately, the Children of Many Colors Powwow is about cultural perseverance, Roberts said. "It's a way to keep cultural traditions alive," Roberts said, "to unite people, to celebrate."

By Alicia Doyle Posted: July 18, 2012 Ventrua County Star.



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