Pala tribe to mark Cupa Days next weekend

North County Times 4.30.12
Pala tribe to mark Cupa Days next weekend

Ramona Greene a Chippewa sets up her booth at the Pala Indian Reservation's 2004 Cupa Days celebration. The event commemmorates the Luiseno and Cupeno bands forced relocation from Warner Springs (Cupa) to Pala in 1903.

PALA ---- The Pala band of Mission Indians will host its 38th annual Cupa Days commemoration May 5-6 with American Indian dancers and drummers, Indian arts and food items and evening tribal games.

The two-day event, which kicks off Saturday, commemorates the 109th anniversary of the forced relocation of the Cupeno people in 1903 from their homeland of Cupa, near Warner Springs, about 35 miles east of Pala.

But Cupa Days ---- always held on the first weekend of May ---- isn't a political protest. It's a way to celebrate the culture of the Cupeno and bring together the people of the various tribes who call Pala Reservation home.

About 1,000 people each year attend the festivities, which are open to the public. Among the American Indian tribes represented at Cupa Days will be all of the Southern California tribes, as well as tribes from outside the area.

A highlight of Cupa Days is a round-the-clock program of live entertainment by American Indian dancers, drummers and other performers, including Apache dancers, feather dancers, hoop dancers and eagle dancers. There are also often Yaqui deer dancers from Arizona and Aztec dancers from Mexico.

A tradition at Indian gatherings nationwide is the annual contest of "peon," which will take place on Saturday evening. The Indian game, always played at dusk and often stretching into the wee hours, is a gambling game where contestants must guess the color of the bone an opponent is holding. Played by two teams of two, the game has its own vocabulary (adaptations of Spanish words, in most cases) and each team will have its own cheering section, who will sing songs to confuse the opponents about where the bone is hidden.

A couple of dozen vendor booths will offer Indian arts and crafts as well as a variety of foods for sale, including Indian fry bread tacos, burritos, barbecued hot dogs, snow cones and coffee drinks, but no alcohol. Cupa Days is a sober event designed for families.

Cupa Days runs from 10 a.m. to after midnight May 5 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 6 at the Cupa Cultural Center in Pala, which is off Highway 76, seven miles east of Interstate 15. Admission is free. Call 760-891-3593.

Pala Band of Mission Indians

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