Pow-wow! Native groups share culture in Sunset Park - Brooklyn Paper

Pow-wow! Native groups share culture in Sunset Park

Heritage: Valerie and Raven performed in traditional Redhawk garb.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

They danced to the beat of their own drum.

Dozens crowded the Sunset Park Recreation Center to celebrate the diversity of indigenous cultures through music and dance on Nov. 29. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council hosted the powwow highlighting a mix of cultures from North America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and the event was a great chance for locals to get a glimpse of new cultures — and a reminder to some city-dwelling Native Americans about a life they left behind, one local said.

“The story-telling, the sharing, the explaining of the traditions is what gave it so much meaning,” said Park Sloper Angelina Mike of the Chemehuevi Nation, who came out with her two sons. “And for myself and my children, we’re so far from our own tribe, our own reservation land, and we get to be reminded of the traditions and the principles we live by that are so easy to forget in the city.”

Dancers dressed in beaded robes and feathered headdresses performed moves that paid homage to the Earth and the cosmic energies, while musicians beat drums and played instruments such as the quena — a South American flute mostly used by Andean musicians.

Performers urged the crowd to join in and participate in the cultural celebration. The dances stressed the mystical relationship all beings share regardless of heritage, one dancer said.

“We as indigenous people always believe in the interconnectedness of all creation and the energy that we all share,” said Aztec dancer Edward Jaramillo. “And the concept of some of the dances were that of regrowth and regeneration. It’s a way of coming together and being reborn.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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