Enlightening Fall Festival



Just before the start of Native American Heritage Month in November, Colgate held the Native American Arts and Culture Festival on October 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sanford Field House The cultural festival featured Native American dancers, musicians, artisans and vendors.

Carol Lorenz, the senior curator of the Longyear Museum of Anthropology and a faculty member of the Native American Studies Program was one of the main sponsors of the event. She spoke briefly about the goals of the festival.

“[The aims were] 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 and to welcome residents of the surrounding communities to Colgate for an event that is both entertaining and educational,” Lorenz said.

Konosioni, African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, and Native American Student Association (NASA) students assisted with the event this year — planning, setting up and running the Children’s Corner where there were crafts and activities such as making cornhusk dolls and beaded bracelets. NASA, an organization of students with either a Native American heritage, Native American Studies concentrations or simply with curiosity and interest in Native American culture, raised the funds this year to bring the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers and Tahuantinsuyo.

Children were welcome to participate in the festive dances while all the guests could try traditional Iroquois cuisine, from corn soup and Indian tacos to buffalo chili. While those who came viewed the baskets, jewelry, pottery, dolls, instruments and dream-catchers the vendors brought, performances were occurring throughout the day.

Dan Hill, a Cayuga indigenous flute player, and the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers led by Sherri Waterman Hopper, who have come in previous years, returned to Colgate for the festival again this year. However, the event also welcomed new guests like Tahuantinsuyo, a group of Andean musicians and dancers and the Cherokee musician Michael Jacobs, who performed both traditional and contemporary pieces.

Numerous artists attended as well: antler carver Steve John, weaver Alida Perez, clay sculptor Peter B. Jones, lacrosse stick maker Alfred Jacques, silver worker Dan Hill and stone carver Tom Huff.

“[The artisans] demonstrated the craftsmanship involved in creating their work,” Lorenz said.

All together, over 40 artists came to Colgate who were from the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois nations, or were Navajo, Blackfoot, Sioux, Cree, Columbian, Ecuadorian or Guatemalan.

Lorenz pointed out that the festival is significant because “it provides a point of intersection for three Colgate entities: the Longyear Museum, the Native American Studies Program and student organizations, especially NASA, which has participated in the planning of this since 2001.”

The Native American Arts and Culture Festival granted students, faculty and Hamilton residents the unique opportunity to experience and learn about another culture through its art forms and its people. Last year, the event had more than 1,000 visitors and this year seemed to be just as much of a success. Plans for next year have already begun and until then, the Colgate community can continue the study of Native American culture through the celebration of Native American Heritage Month, which will begin this Sunday.