San Diego American Indian stories are brought to you by Southern California American Indian Resource, SCAIR.

SCAIR- TANF: 2011 Gathering of Native Americans

By Roy Cook

“Oh, the weather outside is delightful.”

The Seasons Yule music drifts above the Viejas Dream Catcher Entertainment Center. Warm and welcoming are the hot drinks and sweet refreshments that are available for each family to enjoy.

This Gathering of Native American, GONA, event, 12/14/2011, is sponsored and coordinated by Southern California American Indian Resource Center, SCAIR administration and learning center. The SCAIR main office is located in Alpine and downtown San Diego. Wanda Michaelis is the Executive Director of Southern California American Indian Resource Center. SCAIR both administers and participated in partnership affiliations with: Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF services. Both organizations’ are under the auspices of the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association.

Bill Johnson, SCAIR Board President opened the evening and then called upon SCAIR Senior advisor Randy “Burt Reynolds” Edmonds, Kiowa-Caddo, for his Tribal thoughts on family unity and traditions. Randy also presented the blessing for the gathering this evening. Bill introduced the evening emcee: Frank Pancucci, SCAIR project coordinator.

Frank introduced each of the honored speakers: Lynne Ray Smith TANF site manager. He introduced the staff from Manzanita, La Posta, Alpine and San Diego. Frank then called upon ‘Running Grunion’ Abel Silvas for participatory stories of the Luiseno and Kumeyaay.

Poinsettias grace the stage along with splashes of festive red. Bright eyes of the children scan the setting and piles of wrapped presents. Proud Mothers and Nanas beam at their families’ affection compliments. Both candid and family portraits by Desiree Stevenson are added to the SCAIR archives of festive events.

There are rows of brown faces and much human diversity is also evident. The children are amazingly attentive as the sit with great expectation for their family’s name to be called and the special guest in the red suit to hand them one of the wrapped presents. It almost seems inevitable that the babies who have been so quiet begin to cry at the sight of ‘Santa’.

Finally, with our troops coming home from Iraq it will be a true peace on Earth for some of our Warriors overseas. We thank you all for being a part of the success of this Joyful gathering.