Uniting Nations and Peoples: Native American Arts and Cultural Festival

Uniting Nations and Peoples: Native American Arts and Cultural Festival

Alyssa Perez

In contrast to the gray, cold and blistery Saturday afternoon of October 27, the Sanford Field House was filled with cheery warmth and spirit as Native American Heritage Month began.

The annual Native American Arts and Culture Festival brought a wide variety of Native people and their respective crafts to Colgate University to promote understanding and to educate students, faculty and families from the surrounding area about modern Native American arts and culture.

This festival, sponsored and organized by the Longyear Museum and the Native American Studies Program, was composed of over forty Native artists selling their crafts and displaying their skills. The Festival also provided activities and crafts for children, samplings of Native foods, performances by a Native American Storyteller and numerous art demonstrations throughout the day.

“It was very interesting to see how the lacrosse sticks are made,” first-year Rachael Million-Perez said. “The tools for creating the sticks are very simple, as are the materials from which it is crafted, but the skills required to create a stick are just as intricate as those required by a painter. It was wonderful to see first hand how the artist uses his talent and skill.”

In addition to all the craftspeople filling the Field House and their respective crafts were performers sharing their culture through dance and music. Among such notable performances as the Haudenosunee Singers and Dancers, Ike Hopper and Corn Bred was Inca Son, a group that performs the music and dance of the Andes. Inca Son has won numerous awards and distinctions over the years for their work and has even performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics. These performances all exemplified Native culture and greatly added to the overall learning experience.

“My favorite performance was probably the traditional Andean music group, Inca Son,” senor and Treasurer of the Native American Student Association Stephanie Tubman said.

“Considering that resume, we should be honored to have had them at Colgate. I had never heard them before this weekend. All the musical artists at the festival were great, but Inca Son’s performance especially had a powerfully moving, mysterious, and positive energy about it,” he said.

A great part of any culture is its food, and Native American cultures are no different. The festival was filled with delicious examples of Native foods for all to enjoy. Even before the Field House came into view, the smell of local Iroquois and Haudensaunee foods could be caught on the wind to tempt the festival-goers.

“There are several goals of the Native American Arts & Culture Festival: to kick off the celebration of Native American Heritage month (November) with a Native American presence on the Colgate campus; to bring Native Americans and non-Indians together in an environment that fosters mutual understanding; to provide an opportunity for learning about contemporary Native people and their arts and culture,”Carol Ann Lorenz said.

Lorenz is the senior curator of the Longyear Museum of Anthropology and a lecturer in Art & Art History, Native American Studies, Africana & Latin American Studies and Sociology & Anthropology.

All the hard work is worth it in the end after a successful Festival in which Native Americans and non-Natives come together to learn and teach one another.