Monday, August 2, 2010

Saluting American Indian Military Veterans

Artwork by Gerald Clarke, Jr. of Cahuilla Reservation for Dorothy Ramon Learning Center

They answered the call, and many didn’t return home to Southern California. At the Aug. 14 Dragonfly Gala, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center will honor the sacrifices and service of American Indian military veterans and their families.

American Indians have the highest percentage of any ethnic group serving in the U.S. military. The nonprofit Learning Center’s annual Dragonfly Gala will feature tribal displays and a tribal color guard, share military memories and present the annual Dragonfly Award for soaring achievements in saving and sharing Native American cultures and history. Gala participants are invited to share their photos and memories honoring American Indian military veterans.


“The annual Dragonfly Gala serves us in a special way,” Learning Center President Ernest H. Siva said recently. “While, ostensibly it is a fund-raiser, it has also been a venue for education and what the Indians call a Doings (Waka'). This was a time for people to meet and experience food, singing and dancing, trade, visiting and meeting new people.

“In the old times, most of these activities took place outdoors,” Siva said. “Today, our venue is Morongo (Reservation) Community Center, which has been large enough to accommodate guests under one roof.”

Along with the military memories and tribal displays, the Dragonfly Gala will include:


Photo by Carlos Puma, crowd enjoys delicious dinner at 2009 Gala.

• A barbecue dinner, this year prepared and served by William Pink and his family;


• bird singing and dancing and other traditional Southern California American Indian music;

Photo by Carlos Puma, Singing birds at the 2009 Gala

• and a silent auction with Native American and ecletic art.

Past galas have drawn crowds of more than 300 people from across California. All proceeds help Dorothy Ramon Learning Center Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, save and share Southern California’s American Indian cultures, languages, history and music and other traditional arts.

The Learning Center has been renovating buildings at the corner of Hays Street and San Gorgonio Avenue in Banning. The building will enable the Center to offer more cultural programs and hands-on workshops for people of all ages.

“Even though traditional culture has changed drastically, there are the remnants of important values and knowledge that have deep roots,” Siva said. “These reside in language and song and our memories, which may or may not have been documented in print or recording. It is our job and occupation to make these accessible to both young and old through our publications and instruction.”

DETAILS: PLEASE RSVP! Now is the time to reserve your seats or table. See e-mail and phone number below.

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