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Public invited to celebrate culture and tradition

October 11, 2018

LAUGHLIN — “Mojave Strong — Empowering Our Future Through Culture, Tradition and Wellness” is this year’s Fort Mojave Indian Days theme and everyone throughout the Tri-state is invited to join in the festivities.

“As a tribe, we’re always thinking about our future,” said Gentry Medrano, public information officer for the tribe. “Looking at the history of the event, it’s always been a celebration of tribal people, but then came this awareness of wanting to open up to the public and invite all to come celebrate with us, to celebrate who we are and to always be good neighbors.”

The Fort Mojave Indian Days will be a weeklong event covering many aspects of tribal culture through several activities such as the Spirit Run, a parade, workshops and the Women’s Bird Dancing and Men’s Bird Singing Group contest.

The event began in 1976 and the goal was to bring the tribe together and to share their culture with one another, she said.

“As it grew, we wanted to share who we are with the surrounding communities, we wanted to share with all who and what we are, to give insight into our culture,” Medrano said.

Most of the event will be held in the California village in Needles, but all of the Tri-state, including Laughlin, is invited to be part of the celebration.

The Avi Resort and Casino provides a glimpse into what the community is about, said Medrano. FMIT Days is a chance to get a deeper look into the culture and to learn about the tribe.

“We want to close the gap between the areas,” Medrano said.

There’s a want to extend a hand out to residents in Laughlin and in the other communities such as Bullhead City and welcome them to be part of FMIT Days and further develop those relationships, said Medrano.

Recently, she said, the tribe protested the regatta and maybe some residents don’t fully understand why they were opposed to that event. FMIT Days provides that chance to learn why. Some residents may have heard tribal members refer to themselves as the people by the water but FMIT Days will be an opportunity to have a complete understanding of what that means for the tribe, she continued.

FMIT Days is a chance to not only celebrate the Mojaves but also other tribes.

So far the tribe is expecting several visitors including the Aztec Dancers, singer Roland Golding, singer Ral Christman, Emerson Group, bird singer Larry Hammond, Hopi Dance Group, Daniel Murphy, Black Mountain Bird Singers, Cha’Bii’Tu Apache Crown Dancers, Desert Cahuilla singer Mike Mirelez, Rz Life Bird Singers, John Christman and bird singer Wayne Nelson. The list is not all inclusive, some groups and individuals are expected to be added.

The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe has a long tradition of reaching out to others, Medrano said. Tribal men would run on foot to let others know of water resources and other types of news they would want or need to know, she continued.

So FMIT Days is really along that vein, she said. The goal is to come together, share each other’s cultures but to also invite others to be part of that celebration.

One significant part of the celebration is the Spirit Run, which will be Thursday, Oct. 25. The run begins at sunrise originating at Avi Kwa Ame, Spirit Mountain. More than 50 runners are anticipated to participate and they will pass through traditional Mojave lands.

“Spirit Mountain is where our origins are, it’s where our story begins,” said Medrano. “(It) can be seen from all around the valley.”

The run is part of the “Mojave Strong” in the theme, she said. “The runners derive strength from our traditions and culture.”

The Spirit Run is also a chance for the younger generations to participate and revitalize an important tradition, she said.

Medrano said the tribe took a little different approach to the entire event with the tribal council heading up its organizing. Tribal members and others added their thoughts about what they liked to see for the theme.

Each aspect of the theme reflects things the tribe wants to accomplish or how they want to enhance their traditions and culture.

One way of expanding the event included lowering the vendor prices, said Medrano. There is a straight fee of $75 for all types of vendors.

This to help encourage more and a variety of vendors to participate in the festivities, she said.

With FMIT Days still a couple of weeks away, vendors are still welcome to be part of the fun. Anyone wanting to be a vendor can call Sam Evanston at 760-629-4591 or send email to samevanston@fortmojave.com.

Some noted aspects of the weeklong celebration include the workshops. They will be held at several locations on the reservation, and focus on the language, culture and traditions of the tribe. A luncheon will be held from noon to 1 p.m. each day of the workshops in the tribal gymnasium in Needles.

For more information about scheduling what workshops are offered, call 760-629-4591 ext. 106 or send email to publicrelations@fortmojave.com.

The royalty pageant will be held Thursday, Oct. 25. The winners typically appear in the parade.

A nature walk will begin at 7 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26. A golf tournament follows at 8 a.m. at the Mojave Resort Golf Club, 9905 Aha Macav Parkway, in Laughlin.

The annual parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 in Needles. The parade will begin at the corner of I and Front Streets. It will go along Broadway and end at D Street.

For more information about the parade, call Nichole Garcia at 760-629-4591 or visit www.fortmojaveindiantribe.com to fill out an online registration form to have a float in the parade.

Additional Saturday activities include traditional and nontraditional competitions such as the horseshoe tournament and frybread eating contest. Tug of War and Wahoo game matches will round out the day.

The Bird Dancing and Bird Singing contest will be held Saturday evening. The day concludes witl the Youth, Women and Men Peon Tournament at Spirit Runners Park at 9 p.m.

All the events, minus the golf tournament, will be held in the Fort Mojave California Village, 500 Merriman Ave.

For any additional information on any part of the event, call 760-629-4591 ext. 106 or send email to publicrelations@fortmojave.com.

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