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20181030 PowWow IMG 0932When Robert Soto and his wife decided to start a pow wow for the Lipan Apache and other tribes to celebrate, they intended it to be a small, private affair.

Soto never dreamed that the Dak'ee Si Pow Wow would continue to be celebrated 48 years later – and open to the public. But, that's what it was Saturday as tribal representatives from several nations made their way to the Lark Community Center in McAllen to keep the Native American tribes' culture alive and to educate the public and the younger generation about their customs and traditions that they are working to preserve.

Pow wows are held all over the United States and are the Native American people's way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making new ones, as they renew and preserve their culture and heritage.

20181030 PowWow IMG 0985Soto and his wife decided on going public with the Pow Wow in 1988.

“I would've told them they are crazy to think that this would last and grow and I'd still be organizing it now,” Soto said. “But it's important for people to be educated on this. People don't know that there are 600 Native Americans in McAllen alone, just from my tribe and more like 1,200 or more overall.”

At Saturday’s event, vendors lined up along the walls of the gym while the center was reserved for dancers, singers, drummers and tribal members. Soto said that the circle in the center was considered sacred.

Tribes with members attending the event, along with the Lipan Apaches, included Cherokee, Osage, Chickasaw, Choctaw and others.

Sandy Kosidowski, Alice Hardy and Judy Lenmark, residents of Victoria Palms in Donna, all live up in northern states where there is a larger presence of Native Americans. All three had been to pow wows before and had some familiarity with the warrior dance known as the gourd dance, which opened the festivities.

20181030 PowWow IMG 1018“I've always been interested in this and have a friend who is Native American,” said Kosidowski, who is from Wabasha, Mn. “The National Eagle Center is in Wabasha. I can stand as close to a real live Eagle as I am to you.”

The National Eagle Center focuses on conservation, research and education regarding eagles. It is home to several rescued bald eagles and relays Native American history and how the eagle plays a part and what it symbolizes in that culture.

At one point Soto was charged with illegally possessing feathers of golden and bald eagles, which is a federal crime unless they are registered through the government. After a long, drawn out battle, Soto and his fellow tribesmen, who were his lawyers as well, came out victorious. He brought one of the golden eagle feathers with him to the center.

“All of this is our heritage, where we came from,” he said. “One day I hope it’s my grandchildren who are pushing this forward and celebrating the 100th annual event. They've heard all the stories.”

20181030 PowWow IMG 1046Hardy participated in an endeavor in Colorado to teach English to Navaho children. “It was incredibly interesting,” said Hardy, from Denver, Colorado, who is in the Valley for her first year. “We would talk and interact with the kids and provide support.”

In addition to the gourd dancing, Soto played the flute, there was a flag song, the grand entry and the Huisache Creek dancers. Bob Woolery, who came into town from Sedalia, Mo., was master of ceremonies. He has returned to the event for several years and taken on different roles, from head man, to head gourd dancer to arena director.

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