Santa Barbara County’s biggest and most anticipated Native American cultural event is nearly here. The 17th annual Chumash Inter-Tribal Pow-Wow will draw members of tribal nations from across the United States to participate in traditional dancing, singing and drumming at the Live Oak Campground.

This year’s theme is “Kiyusk’ Al — We Are Strong.”

Dancing categories include traditional, straight, fancy and grass dancing. More than $45,000 in prize money will be offered in dancing and drumming competitions. There also will be Native American food and crafts booths.

The pow-wow will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, with a gourd dance kicking off the event at noon. The pow-wow will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7, with the grand entry at noon.

Pow-wows didn’t originate in California. But the Chumash and other tribes in the state have gathered to sing, dance, socialize and heal since time immemorial. The Chumash in the 1960s first opened one of its pow-wow gatherings to the public as part of a fund-raising campaign to bring running water to the Santa Ynez Reservation.

The pow-wow is an annual effort of a committee of Chumash tribal volunteers who plan, organize and operate the two-day gathering. Dominica Valencia and Elaine Schneider are the co-chairs of this year’s committee.

Other committee members include: Charlie Centeno, Jacy Romero, William Wyatt, Pita Macias, Gina Mosqueda-Lucas, Eva Pagaling, Nakia Zavalla, Lisa Romero, Aileena Diaz, Darlene Athie, Raymond Padilla, Adelina Padilla, John Schneider, Carmen Sandoval and Virginia Ortega.

The committee’s goal is to provide the community with educational and cultural experiences focusing on Native American music, arts and customs while promoting native self-reliance and pride.

It will be a zero-waste event, in keeping with the tribe’s commitment to be environmental stewards.

Admission is free. Parking costs $5. The camping fee is $25. For more information on the pow-wow, call (805) 688-7997.

Here is the link for dance and drum competition categories and other pow-wow information.