About Us

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe located on the San Manuel Indian Reservation near Highland, California. San Manuel exercises its inherent sovereign right of self-governance and provides essential services for its citizens by building infrastructure, maintaining civil services, and promoting social, economic and cultural development. As the Indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys, mountains and high deserts, the Serrano people of San Manuel have called this area home since time immemorial and are committed to remaining a productive partner in the San Bernardino region.



The Pow Wow is a three-day event of music and dance that is both a celebration and competition with participants vying for prizes and honoring enduring Native traditions. The first day begins around sundown, with an elder blessing the grounds with sage and offering a prayer for good spirit and a good time. This is traditionally followed by an exhibition of bird singing and dancing. The grand entry follows after which it’s time for the dancing (contest, exhibition, and intertribal). At the end of the evening, there is a small procession removing the flags from the arena proper, which ends each day.

Two grand entries highlight Saturday’s schedule, one in the afternoon, the other in the evening. Exhibitions of gourd dancing by Southern tribal representatives and bird singing/dancing precede the afternoon session, and a bird singing/dancing exhibition takes place before the evening’s Grand Entry. Both of the Grand Entries are followed by more dancing (contest, exhibition, and intertribal). Sunday features one grand entry in the afternoon, which is again preceded by exhibitions of gourd dancing and bird singing/dancing. Then, it’s time for the climactic round of contest dancing.

It’s the last opportunity for all of the competitors to impress the judges. Once that is over, the judges’ votes are tabulated, the winners announced, and prizes awarded. Unlike the other two days, however, there is a more formal, spiritual closing ceremony that marks the official end of the Pow Wow.

Native men wearing traditional regalia
Vendor Table

Key Information

Beginning at 8am on Friday, camping is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All campers must be self-contained as there are no hook-ups. Shower facilities are available; please check in at the Cal State information booth. ONLY drum groups can have one canopy per group.


During the event, public safety officers will monitor the grounds. We are not responsible for any unattended, lost or stolen items. All visitors are expected to comply with the university’s policies, including those for service animals, at all times.

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2024 Pow Wow Event Schedule

San Manuel's Commitment to Native Culture Beyond the Pow Wow

See how San Manuel Band of Mission Indians continues to champion Native American heritage well beyond the rhythms of the Pow Wow. Through initiatives like Hamiinat Magazine and vibrant celebrations like California Native American Day, we're dedicated to fostering understanding, preserving traditions, and celebrating the rich tapestry of Indigenous cultures. Dive deeper into our efforts to promote and uplift Indian Country values, stories, and achievements.


Frequently Asked Questions

A Pow Wow is more than just a social gathering. While you are warmly welcomed and encouraged to attend, keep in mind that it is first and foremost a sacred event, heavily steeped in tradition.

The arbor (entrance to the arena) is sacred ground and reserved solely for Pow Wow participants. Guests should stay on its perimeter. Feel free to talk to participants while they are outside the arbor.

A Pow Wow includes special songs such as flag, honor, memorial, veteran, prayer, closing, and any other song so designated by the emcee. When one is sung, stand and remove your cap or hat during its entirety.

The emcee will announce the events and provide needed information. If he requests your participation in any way, please respond accordingly.

While cameras and picture taking are allowed, some participants do not want their photo taken. Always ask for permission before taking pictures/videos.

Regalia is not a costume. Most took many hours to produce. Likewise, decorations/accessories may be fragile, and may have personal significance to the wearer. Before touching any part of a regalia, ask for permission.

Ask the head singer (drum leader) for permission to tape any song.

Yes! A Pow Wow is a wonderful event to share with the whole family. However, be sure to watch young children and keep them from running in or through the arbor.

Drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited.

When in doubt, ask or fill out the form on the Contact Us page.


Eat like a local

Discover a variety of nearby restaurants. Although there are plenty of choices, these dining spots stand out.

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Pow Wows Across Southern California