Native American Celebration Will Be Held On June 21, 22
The Ninth Annual Gateway to Nations: New York City’s Native American Heritage Celebration will take place at Fort Tilden in the Gateway National Recreation Area on June 21 and 22.
The event is largest pow wow on the east coast. It is hosted by the Brooklyn-based Redhawk Indian Arts Council. Over the two days, more than 1,000 Native American artists, performers and educators from across North and South America will demonstrate the finest in Native American singing, dancing, drumming, flute playing and works of art.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for seniors and children.
In addition to offering visitors a unique and authentic cultural experience, the event helps break many of the stereotyped images they may have about Native Americans.
Falling on the summer solstice, a special day for Native People, the event offers visitors the opportunity to sample mouthwatering authentic Native American cuisine like buffalo burgers, wild rice, venison stew, corn soup, and fry bread. The audience is encouraged to visit and speak with Native American artists from such nations as Sioux, Winnebago, Cherokee, and Mohawk.
Many of the artists have traveled across the continent to present their breathtaking paintings, carvings, pottery, beadwork, jewelry, and leatherwork – all available for sale. In addition, the general public is invited to take part in a mechanical bull-riding contest.
The highlight of the weekend is a dance and music competition in which the best Native American dancers and singers from North and South America compete for over $20,000 in cash and prizes.
The audience will get the rare opportunity to view and learn about such dances as:
Men’ s Fancy War Dancing: Men don two colorful bustles on their backs, turning, and spinning, doing splits to lightning –fast drumbeats.
Woman’s Fancy Shawl: Dancers with beautiful colored shawls over their shoulders spin and move like butterflies floating about the dance circle.
Men’s Northern Traditional: Dancers tell a story of past hunts and battles of their ancestors while wearing a bustle of eagle feathers on their backs.
Women’s Jingle Dress: 365 silver lids rolled and sewn onto each dancer’s dress create the sound of a gentle rain falling to the earth as they dance.
Hoop Dance: Dancers use up to fifty small hoops to create different animal shapes including dance eagles, snakes, and alligators in this rare and extremely skilled dance.
In a performance sponsored by mothers of firefighters killed on September 11, The Northern Plains Grass Dance Society will honor the fallen heroes with a dance that has been performed in the Dakota’s and Montana for thousands of years. They will dance on small brush fires, stomping them out as they move from area to area, healing the earth and honoring those who have passed.
In addition, recording artists Iaora Tahiti (Tahiti Lives) will perform music and dance from the South Pacific Islands; Aztec Fire Dancers from Mexico City will demonstrate how their dances represent the forces of nature and the struggle for power among the elements; and an Iroquois performing group will demonstrate dances of the original people of New York State.
The master of ceremonies for the event is Wallace Coffey, the Trial Chairman of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma.
The family-friendly event will also feature a live bird of prey exhibit, a mechanical bull-riding contest, a petting zoo, and pony rides.
The National Park Service estimates that 20,000 visitors attended last year’s event, held in Brooklyn at Floyd Bennett Field.
The Redhawk Indian Arts Council is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1993 by Native American artists to educate the general public about Native American heritage through song, dance, works of art, and other cultural expressions. In addition to producing four major annual events in the tri-state area, they actively combat negative images of Native Americans by offering cultural and educational workshops and performances available for pre-K, through college and beyond. More information is available on the web at http://redhawkarts.home.mindspring.com.