Medicine Warriors Dance group (photo by Patricia Montes Gregory)
Published February 1, 2016
OAKLAND — “Community is Good Medicine” was the theme for the 60th Anniversary celebration of Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, California. Approximately 800 Bay area members of the American Indian community celebrated the milestone with a live and silent auction, emceed by noted actor/artist Michael Horse, a dance presentation by the Medicine Warriors youth dancers and All Nations drummers, speakers, and a catered dinner ending with celebratory cake. Entertainment was provided by Bay area singer/songwriter Jeremy Goodfeather (Mohawk). The opening prayer was sung by Hector Patty and Joshua Perez.
Kris Longoria (Cheyenne/Arapaho/Caddo) Mistress of Ceremonies speaking, surrounded by youth dancers (photo by Patricia Montes Gregory)
Mistress of Ceremonies, Kris Longoria (Cheyenne/Arapaho/Caddo) welcomed everyone with memories of her own youth spent at the many activities offered by Intertribal Friendship House.
“The first relocation program started in the late 1930s and 1940s and brought many Native American families to the San Francisco Bay Area. They came originally to work in the steel mills and on the railroads and later were stationed here in the military during WWII. These families became the founding generation of many of us here in the Bay area. I represent the seventh generation of one of those families,” said Ms. Longoria.
Intertribal Friendship House is one of the oldest Native American cultural centers in the United States. It first began as a social club called the “4 Winds” and was located at the downtown Oakland YMCA during the 1940s. In the 1950s, the American Friends Service Organization bought the present building and leased it to the community. It is now owned by Intertribal Friendship House, and under the Direction of Carol Wahpepah, wife of the late Bill Wahpepah.
Noel Gallo, Oakland City Councilman, District 5 (photo by Charles Lopez, Sr.)
During the event, Noel Gallo, Councilman representing the City of Oakland’s District 5, presented a Proclamation from the City of Oakland to the Friendship House in recognition of its service to the Native American community.
“So many valuable and important programs and events began here at Intertribal Friendship House, including the beginning of the Native American Health Center, the Native pre-school program, now a part of the Oakland Unified School District, organizing for the occupation of Alcatraz Island, the Native American Basketball League, the planning and development of the American Indian Public Charter School, the UC Berkeley Native American Graduate Program, and so many other opportunities to help our community thrive. We look forward to many more successful years” said Councilman Gallo.
“This community means so much to me. My grandparents met each other at Intertribal Friendship House. My sisters and brothers are the first to be born off the reservation. I am honored always to give back to Intertribal and my urban Indian community,” commented Intertribal Friendship House Board member Marie Hernandez (Lakota), who shared her experiences at Intertribal Friendship House.
Lisa Coto, who serves on Councilman Noel Gallo’s District 5 staff, was instrumental in helping to secure first time sponsorships from AC Transit and PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) for the event. This gesture helped Intertribal Friendship House build an on-going relationship with these two Bay area organizations.
Dance Leader Lakota Holder and Medicine Warrior dancers (photo by Patricia Montes Gregory)
At Saturday’s anniversary celebration, Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf, along with Councilman Gallo, donated two sets of tickets to the Warriors basketball games at the Oakland Coliseum which added extra excitement to the raffle and live auction.
Michael Horse leading the Live Auction portion of the event (photo by Charles Lopez, Sr.)
Michael Horse kept the community entertained while emceeing the live portion of the auction. Many items by well known Native artists were donated by Pennie Opal and Michael Horse of Gathering Tribes Gallery.
Singer/Songwriter Jeremy Goodfeather (Mohawk) (photo by Charles Lopez, Sr.)
Singer/songwriter Jeremy Goodfeather (Mohawk) ended the live auction by entertaining with his popular songs, “Accidentally Brown,” “Shine on Me” and “Wonderful Teacher” a song he dedicated to the memory of the late John Trudell, who spoke and performed often at Intertribal Friendship House.
Nanette Bradley Deetz is of Dakota, Cherokee and German descent. She is a poet, writer, educator and sometimes musician whose poetry appears in several anthologies. She is a correspondent for the Alameda Journal and Native News Online.