Native American Arts and Culture Festival Brings Treasured History, Art and Music to Colgate


The Native American Arts and Culture Festival allowed the surrounding community to experience Native American traditions.

The Native American Arts and Cultural Festival filled the Sanford Field House with a vast array of beautiful artwork and cultural expression on Saturday, October 21. Taking place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the festival was organized by the Native American Studies Program in cooperation with the Native American Student Association. 

There were multiple tables of intricate arts and crafts made by individuals of various Native American tribes around New York State. These included beaded turquoise necklaces as well as opal rings made by the Navajo in Arizona. There were also necklaces made of deerskin and hematite that were said to enhance any given mood. 

Peter B. Jones of the Onondaga clan sold some of his beautiful pottery and sculpture creations. Many of them were painted blue and green to symbolize nature’s colors and included symbols of animals such as turtles, beavers, deer and birds to represent different clans.

Although the festival made us wish for unlimited money to spend on Native American artistic treasures, it also helped us realize these pieces of history and storytelling as truly priceless.

Stonehorse Goeman sold handmade Iroquois baskets and intricate carvings, ranging from turtles to faces on antlers and tusks. Incredibly personable, he shared his upbeat sense of humor and valuable advice for anyone pursuing their dreams and goals.

“If you love something and have a passion for it, it will happen,” Goeman said. 

Indeed, Goeman and all of the other artists had a contagious passion for creating and for preserving their history and stories. 

“I could feel the pride everyone had for their culture in everything that went on at the festival, from the dancing, to the flute playing, to all of the artwork that was showcased,” sophomore Kendra Berthiaume said.

There were also delightful live music and dance presentations; the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers performed interactive dances to tradtional Iroquois music, and the Ayazamana group performed Ecuadoran

indigenous music and dance. 

In addition, there were children’s art activities, door prizes, craft and tool demonstrations and food, such as corn soup. Visitors were able to learn about various types of arrowheads, spears and lacrosse sticks. Different tribes each came up with a different stick style, some even including rattling deer toes on the end, but all served the purpose of advancing the legendary game we still cherish today.

In any era, it is incredibly important to recognize that the land we call America was originally loved and cherished by the people who it truly belongs to: Native tribes. Thus, the festival was an incredible opportunity to educate ourselves about Native culture in order to respect the legacy and history they left behind.

As a part of her anthropology course at Colgate, sophomore Audrey Swift has explored Native American archaeological sites in central New York with Professor Kerber.

“I was particularly fascinated by the vast array of chert at the festival. We could actually see how Native Americans could chip away at certain stone to create tools,” Swift said.

The festival was also co-sponsored by the Upstate Institute, Core Communities and Identities, the Sociology and Anthropology Department, the ALANA Cultural Center, Colgate Arts Council and the Longyear

Museum of Anthropology.