The 33rd Annual California Indian Market and Peace Festival was held last weekend, May 5th and 6th, on the school soccer field in San Juan Bautista CA. This festival celebrates native culture and art, including booths with juried (authenticated) jewelry, pottery, and crafts; delicious Navajo tacos; and indigenous dancers from around the continent. The event is orchestrated by local resident Elayne (Laynee) Silva-Reyna, a decorated U.S. Air Force Korean War veteran. Prominent in the Sunday line-up is a presentation of colors honoring the many sacrifices of Native Americans and all veterans to the defense of the United States.
Laynee is also an award-winning artist and author and she happens to live right down the street from me. Her book Wolf Dreamer of the Longest Night Moon "illustrates the exquisite beauty of nature and expands awareness for readers to respect the nobility of wolves." I have read it three times and will most likely do so again to experience the meditative flow of her writing and to enjoy the beauty of her story. Laynee was kind enough to sponsor me for the weekend. In exchange for working her booth, I was allowed to sell copies of my Palomino and the Dream Machine alongside "Wolf Dreamer." Plus, I got to eat some of those scrumptious blue flour Navajo tacos. Yum!
Saturday was cold, overcast, and windy, but Sunday the clouds went away and it was a perfect setting for the ceremonial dances and vendors. Local and Bay Area people came out to support the event and take part in the dances, including a few of my former students: Adrian, Ben, Cody, Monica, and one other whose name I simply could not remember. Old age. It's getting to me, slowly but surely.
The best part of the day to me was the performance by the Aztec dancers. The drumming was powerful and the Aztec plumage and costumes were fascinating. To witness this kind of authentic cultural pride and dedication to their craft is an exercise in expansive self-improvement.
I'm not sure there will be a 34th celebration next year. Laynee is talking about retiring and I don't know if anyone else is capable of pulling this event off. That woman is a force of nature. If there is a festival, you should be there!
Peace, Love, and Respect,
P.S. I am writing a series of short articles in the BenitoLink (local online news) features section called Walking San Benito to promote health and recreation in my home county. They will come out every other Friday for the next several months. So check them out if you are interested :-)