Moompetam Woman Aquarium of the Pacific

Moompetam women perform.

Like other Long Beach businesses, the Aquarium of the Pacific staff has had to think out of the box to keep folks engaged.

Since the start of the Stay at Home order in March, the aquarium has had its indoor exhibits closed to the public while keeping outdoor exhibits open for $15, which is less than half the price of the regular admission charge. Sea Lion and penguin encounters also were added as options for visitors.

And closing indoor operations meant that events had to be scaled back too. But the show — in this case the Native American Festival on Sept. 19 — must go on, according to Perter Martineau, event organizer.

"We wanted to make sure that we're still doing everything we can do," he said. "It's an adjustment, but we've made the best of it and the show will go on."

The event celebrates California’s indigenous maritime cultures, which include Tongva, Chumash, Acjachemen, Costanoan, Luiseno and Kumeyaay. The weekend festivities will highlight the connections between those cultures and the ocean, marine life and the environment. 

Called Moompetam — a gathering of the saltwater people — the celebration brings together Native American tribes that called the coast of California their home. The performances encourage others to take care of the ocean and life that resides in and around it.

"The ocean doesn’t belong to any one group of people," Martineau said. "It’s our responsibility to work together to take care of the ocean, and that's why it's so important that we at the aquarium continue to host events that being awareness to conservation."

The festival usually runs for two days. This year, it's one day only, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. The event will be live streaming all day on the aquarium's Facebook and YouTube pages.

This festival kicks off with an Acjachemen Cultural Story presented by MC Jacque Nuñez. Other presentations include Costanoan Rumsen Dance with Tony Cerda and The Humaya Singers, Tongva soapstone demonstration by Julia Bogany, live animal presentation and Chumash cultural story with Deborah Sanchez, Chumash cultural demonstration with Oscar Ortiz, Gabrieleño and Tongva Dance with Kevin Nunez and family and the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians and a performance of Acjachemen songs by Adelia Sandoval and The Tushmalum Heleqatuum Singers.

The festival will conclude at 3:15 p.m., when organizers will present the annual Aquarium's Heritage Award to honoree Dr. Stan Rodriguez, a tribal councilman for the Santa Ysabel Nation, as well as the director of Kumeyaay Community College, located on the Sycuan Indian Reservation near El Cajon.

Moompetam: Native American Virtual Festival will be streamed online for free on the aquarium's Facebook and YouTube pages.

For more information, including links to the live stream on event day, go to aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/moompetam.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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