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Dancers, artists, musicians and scholars are headed to Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus for a one-day-only, free celebration of "Native Americans: Living the Diaspora." On Wednesday, the university is focusing its semi-annual diaspora conference exclusively on Native American culture and art, hosting a myriad of performers and events that will take place throughout the day and are open to the public.

Conference coordinator Lisa Biggs told GO Brooklyn that above all, the lineup will make for "a really rich event.

"It’s a chance to look at different artforms in the Native American diaspora and also to talk to artists about the history and politics involved in their work," explained Biggs.

According to Cliff Matias, director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, the state of New York has the sixth-largest population of Native Americans in the U.S., and the largest percent of this population live here in Brooklyn. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council is one of only two indigenous arts organizations in the tri-state area, known best for their annual "Native American Heritage Celebration" powwows held at Floyd Bennett field.

Redhawk’s interactive dance and music workshops are a highlight of LIU’s conference as the group will use live musicians and dancers to perform and interpret indigenous dances like the "fancy dance," "grass dance," "chicken dance" or "hoop dance." Workshops will be held in Metcalf 323 from 10 am to 11:50 am (for those who sign up in advance). At noon, there will be a grand performance by the Redhawk Dance Troupe in the Kumble Theatre.

Another feature of the conference is the opening of the exhibition of Native American visual art in the Salena gallery, with a reception at 6 pm. Artists Duane Slick (Winnebago­/Mesquakie) and Jason Lujan (Apache) will use photography and painting, respectively, to present two diverse views on Native American identity and myth as well as its role in contemporary society.

According to his artist’s statement, Lujan’s "The Sacred Nothing" (pictured) is his take on Native artifacts and their interaction with the tools of collection, restoration and preservation.

Biggs encourages New Yorkers to come to what she promises will be "a unique opportunity to learn about Native American cultures and meet Native artists of different backgrounds."

"Native Americans: Living the Diaspora" will be held on Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus at Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn on Oct. 18, from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public. For information or to register for workshops, call Lisa Biggs at (718) 488-3355 or go to

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