VICTOR, N.Y. -- Making a connection through art: that’s the goal of the 26th Annual Native American Dance and Music Festival at the Ganondagan Historic Site in Victor.
“We all love music,” said Bear Fox of the Akwesasne Women Singers. “And sometimes the songs I sing – they’re from my heart, and so it goes to their hearts. And that’s like a connection being made.”
It’s an opportunity to experience both historic and contemporary Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, culture.
“If you’ve been schooled in western knowledge, a lot of people will say we're extinct a long time ago,” said a member of the Akwesasne Women Singers who uses her Mohawk name, Kaiatahente. “And we are living proof that we still exist. And all those things that were given us, we’ve learned from the elders.”
That includes songs, instruments, dances, storytelling, and handiwork that have been passed down for generations.
New this year is another way to experience living Native American culture: a juried art show that organizers say is the only one of its kind in the East.
“People would have to go to someplace like Santa Fe, New Mexico to see artwork of this caliber,” said Meg Joseph, the executive director of Friends of Ganondagan. “And it was really a dream of ours to have a juried art show here and really show off this beautiful artwork. And now with the Seneca Art and Culture Center open year-round, we’re able to do that.”
It’s even drawing people from abroad.
“Since we are from Brazil and we also have Native Americans there we wanted to learn more about the history of native North Americans,” said Rebecca Rego of Brazil.
They’re lessons from history that are still meaningful today.
“This is an opportunity to get to know the culture and kind of be ambassadors and really share what they know,” said Joseph. “So Ganondagan really is a bridge between native and non-native cultures.”
The festival runs Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.