California’s Largest Native American Heritage Event Expecting Thousands

By Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Special for   USDR

Ancient Native American rock art is the central theme for the second annual Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival in Ridgecrest, California. The celebration during the weekend of November 7-8, 2015 includes a street fair, Native American Film Showcase, crafts from Native American artists, tours to the Coso Petroglyphs, and an Inter-Tribal Powwow. With the petroglyphs located on the China Lake Naval Base, the festival has created a historic collaboration between the US Navy and the tribes taking part in the   powwow.

Presented by the Cherokee Community of Central California, the Inter-Tribal Powwow will take place at Kerr McGee Center November 7 and 8. The event features a traditional Cherokee hog-fry and potluck, dancing, the announcement of a new powwow princess, as well as other entertainment throughout the day. In conjunction with the other events of the Petroglyph Festival, the weekend will be Southern California’s largest Native American Heritage Month celebration. Over 15,000 are expected to attend the festival with many taking trips to see the perfectly preserved Coso Petroglyphs. A Master Class Speakers’ Series will include experts on Native American history, culture and desert  life.

Native American Heritage Month is an important time of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. Designated in 1990 by George H. W. Bush as the month of November, the commemorative month aims to bring visibility and a platform to teach the cultures, traditions, and concepts of the Native people of the United States. The state of California has the largest Native American population and the most distinct tribes of any state, characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity, making the month especially important for the  area.

Ridgecrest serves as the perfect location for the events, as the home of artifacts and petroglyphs dating more than 10,000 years old. Little Petroglyph Canyon alone contains over 20,000 documented images, one of the largest concentrations in the Western Hemisphere. The unique location of the petroglyphs within the Naval Base has kept them in remarkably preserved condition, only accessible through tours with the Maturango Museum and the base. In an effort to increase accessibility for visitors hoping to see the petroglyphs, special bus tours have been designed for the weekend of the festival. Tickets for the tours must be purchased in advance at  maturango.org.

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