SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Steeped in tradition, Native American powwows celebrate life, renewing old friendships and creating new ones.
With more Indian reservations than any other county in the United States, San Diego powwows help keep those traditions alive.
"We all try to come together and share the culture, do the best we can to teach our children. I was born and raised on the reservation, but my kids were not, so it's hard to instill the same teachings that I was brought up with," said Emerald Arnold, born and raised on the Navajo reservation.
Children and adults dressed in colorful regalia for the powwow, which was held Saturday at the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center in Old Town.
"To celebrate life, meet old friends, make new friends, have a good time together with our dancing," said Chuck Cadotte, from Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. "When there's music provided, our ancestors hear them, and they smile upon us.
Cadotte says powwows bring him closer to his ancestors and his heritage.
"We can be recognized. We can have our rights restored, our heritage recognized."
Native American veterans were honored at the powwow, including 102-year-old Joe Renteria, a World War II Navy veteran.
"It brings different people here, and it's just like a family reunion, that's what it amounts to."
While each tribe has its own teachings, culture, and traditions, they come together as one at the powwow.
"That's kind of what the goal is, is to try to teach our children, so our traditions and our culture doesn't die."
On two Wednesdays a month, the Ballard Center holds dance classes open to all students and free of charge.
They host cultural activities every Tuesday night.