This weekend, the fifth annual American Indian Pow Wow will be held at William S. Hart Park, a tree-covered mesa in Newhall.
The powwow will be accompanied by a Native American food and craft fair, storytelling, a Mountain Man encampment and a Civil War battle reenactment at the adjacent Saugus Train Station.
This annual gathering of Native Americans in full regalia has grown so popular that parking is expected to be a problem. Either arrive early or plan to park somewhere near a Santa Clarita Transit bus stop and utilize some of the free ride coupons available in area newspapers this weekend.
Leader of the events is Angeles Pena. Is it ironic that the 100-plus dancers celebrating their heritage will share space with the spirit of William S. Hart, who some consider founding father of the cowboys-and-Indians movie?
"I think it's a good coming-together," Pena says.
He points out that Hart's antagonists on screen were mostly other cowboys, and added, "When I ask the people [dancers] about meeting at Hart Park, they say it's their favorite site." That's because there's plenty of shade from the sycamore trees and soft grass. According to Pena, "Our regalia is hot to wear and the grass is good to dance on."
After the "grand entry" each day at noon, dancing continues for five or six hours. During this time, master of ceremonies Daniel Tom will explain the tribal dances, pointing out their spiritual significance and themes.
Shade and grass aren't just a consideration for Native Americans. "The public should come out. We want people to participate in a Native American gathering," Pena says. There will be special Native American storytelling sessions for kids. Organizer of the Mountain Man event, Joe Purnell, will also spin tales at his encampment site.
There will be a special kids craft booth where native beading and toy-making projects may be purchased for about $1 each. Other booths will sell finished craft items and native foods. A Civil War battle reenactment will take place nearby at the historic Saugus Station.
"Hart of the West American Indian Pow Wow, Mountain Man Encampment and Native American Craft Fair," Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., W.S. Hart Park, 24151 N. San Fernando Road, Newhall. Admission free; (805) 259-0855. Adjacent to Hart Park both days, "Civil War Encampment & Battle for Saugus Train Station." Battle times will be 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Admission $1.