By Roy Cook: AIWA President

The AIWA Color Guard is on hand early evening Monday, April 11, 2005, to open the California Indian Education Conference in Mission Valley at the Town and Country hotel. The afternoon is warm and the visitors are friendly. We sit out in the plaza to enjoy the view and bask in our reptilian identity.

Ida Windwalker and Gary arrive with the flags and the sparkling clean lanyards. We can see the buffet tables piled high with the evening meal. The flags are sorted out and as the participants take their seats we enter down a wide aisle and post the colors. Tukuk Bird songs are sung and prayers by Leroy Elliot are recited for the peoples attending and those back home. Leroy is Chairman of the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay. We retire from the posting of the colors as the dinner announcment.echos in the meeting hall. Outstanding seafood and Mexican fare is offered in a buffet format. It is my understanding all the local Kumeyaay tribes/bands is hosting this meal. It is a real goot one!

Later, after the meal we retreat the colors and the Bird singing resumes with vigor and defined purpose. Lots of singers and lots of colorful dancers too. In fact the evening is just about perfect until we try to leave the parking lot. Arrangements had been made but the Ace parking was totally anal-retentive. Hey, it brings back real memories of military experience and the continual grumbling in the ranks. Those memories were real, and at times it was fun but it never was real fun!

Tomorrow is another day. We have more responsibilities to perform before this mission is complete.

This Tuesday, April 12, we again meet in the late afternoon at the Town and Country for the Elders Banquet. There was a clarification and change in the original time and it required a telephone poll to see if it could fit into the participating members schedules. In spite of the chaos we felt we were able to add to the Tribal Elder recognition ceremony and the overall presence of the event. I personally feel it is always a privilege to honor our Tribal elders in public and recognize their accomplishments while they are still breathing. We posted the colors and proceeded to feast on fowl and salad. Quarts of iced tea and hot coffee kept moving across the table. They were just fine to wash down the slice or two of French Apple pie. Randy Edmonds is the MC and he kept smiles on the faces of the attending tribal people. Finally it is our turn to stagger to our feet and retrieve the colors. It continues to be, ‘all good!’


On Thursday we returned to attend the hosted Educator’s Prime rib, potato and asparagus luncheon. Sycuan resident, Shirley Murphy is recognized as the CIEA Educator of the year. We again went out to the outdoor plaza to people watch and tell military service lies.

Other members of the AIWA Color guard came in from the parking lot and we continued bask in the warmth of the afternoon. Along about 5:45 in the afternoon we ambled over to the pow wow area to get ready for the Gourd dance. We had seen Saginaw Grant come in earlier and he told us he was the Head Gourd dancer for the evening. We said we were here to support him and the event. At the Gourd dance we had three sessions of good songs and a fine opportunity to smooth out a few rough spots in our dance skills. Next, we quickly assembled at the back of the room and led out the grand entry as the invited Warrior Honor guard.

We posted the colors and settled into a full evening of songs and enjoying the many visitors dancing and attending this last activity of the California Indian Education conference 2005.

AIWA members Henry Mendibles and Gary Burrill are kind enough to share some of the many images they took of the presentation. I hope you enjoy the images as much as we did being there and representing our organization. Mehan, Aho, Thank you.

San Diego American Indian Warriors Association.