Tuesday, September 29, 2009

White Otter Makes a Great Show at Conclave 2009

This was an interesting event this year. A few of the Lodges who have been traditional mainstays in the Pow Wow competition at Conclave were not there this year because our Section areas were adjusted. Last year, we lost two Lodges, Talako and Ut-In-Seleca, to the old W3-B Section (now called W3-N). In exchange, we picked up two new lodges, Ta-Heech and Toloma (formerly of W3-B) and now part of our newly named section, W3-S (don't worry if that's confusing, just know that it means that we still have 8 Lodges, but we've changed the makeup and geography).

What this did mean was that the Pow Wow competition was missing a few of its long time supporters and standard bearers, and we all had to decide the best way to set up and do the Dance Team competition in what we called the "20 minute committee meeting". Through it, it was determined that the three lodges that sent full contingents to dance (Esselen, Achhewan Nimat and Ohlone) would take on the responsibility of running the Pow Wow, doing the judging, and announcing the event. With that, my friend Scott from Esselen lodge became the M.C., I became the Arena director and Head Judge, and Charles from Achewan Nimat became the lead singer for the Northern Drum (while Esselen and their dancers sang as the Southern Drum).

With that, it was time for us to get suited up and hold our Pow Wow event. I have to admit I missed seeing my friends from Talako at this event, as I've come to know several of them over the years and looked forward to seeing them each year, but we made some new friends in the Ta-Heech and Toloma lodges, which was fun. As many of you may remember, while our official name is the "Ohlone Lodge Dance Team", we have taken to referring to ourselves as the "White Otter Dancers" in honor of our mascot "Otto", the grayish white California Sea Otter that is our Lodge's symbol. This year, White Otter fielded five dancers. One of our boys who had never participated in a dance event suited up as a Southern Straight dancer, two boys dressed in Grass Dance regalia, my son Nicholas donned the Fancy Dance regalia, and I decided for a change of pace to dress in Northern Traditional garb (it having been the only one I had not specifically worn in a Conclave as of yet :) ). The weather was very hot at the beginning of the event, but thankfully as the sun moved across the sky the field ended up mostly in the shade of the coastal redwoods, which was much better :).

During the competition phase of the events, we were pleased to see that our Southern Straight Dancer took 2nd place in the beginners category, and one of our Grass Dancers took 1st place in the beginners category as well. Nick took 2nd place in the beginners Fancy Dance category, and I took 1st place in the adult category (not really a scored event for the competition, more of a camraderie thing for the advisers and others so that we can get out and compete a little, too :) ).

We had a number of boys go out and participate in the Open event, and Nick was doing great until an unfortunate incident occurred. The choker that was holding his neck bustle in place broke, and the bustle went flying. In Pow Wow competition, losing any part of your regalia is cause for disqualification. He was bummed but he took it in stride. At the end of two songs, one of our Grass Dancers (my son's friend Nick D.) had earned a 3rd place finish. It was a great showing for him, especially since he was hemming and hawing the whole day that he didn't feel he should be competing because "he didn't know what he was doing". Well, I think it's safe to say that talk like that was stopped right quick after that finish (LOL!).

As we tallied up the scores, Esselen finished in 1st Place, Ohlone/White Otter finished in 2nd place, and Achewan Nimat finished in 3rd. This was a big deal for us because, frankly, we had never been able to field enough dancers to even get on he team board in the past. Being on the team podium is a big deal to me, and I'm excited that we made it to this point. My thanks to all of the guys that danced and participated at this event (since this is an Arrowmen event, my girls did not participate this time. With the event being held at Moffet Field next year, it's my hope they will be able to come out and participate (it'll be a lot easier to just bring them out for the Pow Wow event rather than have them have to stick around all weekend). Here's looking forward to future events and future travels of the White Otter Dancers :).

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