Bear Mountain Pow Wow spotlighted Native American art, food and dance

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Bear Mountain State Park rumbled with thousands last weekend during its annual powwow, a Native American festival celebrating indigenous cultures across the Americas.

The host of the festival was Redhawk Native American Arts Council, a non-profit organization that supports Indigenous peoples and educates the public about their lives and ongoing issues. The Bear Mountain Pow Wow is just one of many events held by the council throughout the year, which raise money for Native American programs such as scholarships for young artists.

“It’s always an amazing sight,” said Goduar Siafu, a salesperson from Healing Nature, which sells alkaline herbal medicine. Siafu and her partner have been to many powwows, and her favorite aspect of the event is “the energy of the day”.

Once they paid their admission, attendees roamed freely through the giant circle of vendors selling Native American clothing, jewelry, artwork, toys, and other crafts and wares. For hungry sailors, a handful of food stalls offered varied cuisines, such as Iroquois and Latin. A particular highlight were the arepas, a sweet corn pastry with mozzarella cheese.

“It’s awesome, I haven’t seen it in 19,” said Kim Lewis, an art salesman who has been selling at the Bear Mountain Pow Wow since 1993. “It’s just a good vibe. I couldn’t wait to be there.”

At the heart of the festival was an open space for several performances, attracting large and attentive audiences over the two days. People in the crowd, whether seated on folding chairs or standing on picnic tables, watched and applauded the dynamic range of dancing, singing and storytelling. The audience even had the occasional opportunity to stand up and participate.

“It’s beautiful, peaceful, well-organized,” said Tiffany Kugle, a Michigan resident and first-time visitor who especially loved powwow dancing.

“I come for the dancing,” said Carmen Diaz, a Rockland resident and a third visitor, noting that this powwow was “interesting, colorful and cultural.”

Did you miss the event? Do not worry. This year’s festivities aren’t over yet. The Redhawk Council will host Indigenous Peoples Day between October 9 and 10 at Randall’s Island in New York City, featuring a celebration with similar activities.

For more information about the Redhawk Council, visit their website at https://www.redhawkcouncil.org/

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