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Indigenous Music, Art, Culture and Fun!

    Allegheny Seneca River Dancers

    Tis the season for social gatherings. There are really exciting opportunities to learn more about Indigenous culture through music, art, food and fun! We are very fortunate to reside on Haudenosaunee territory and more specifically, the land of the Seneca or “Onödowa’ga:’ (“People of the Great Hill”). We are about 25 minutes away from the Ganondagan State Historic Site and Cultural Center which provides a lot of events and resources to experience traditional Haudenosaunee cultures.

    The Ganondagan

    Seneca Art & Culture Center

    Hours: Wednesday-Saturday | 9 am – 4 pm

    Address: 7000 County Road 41, Victor, NY

    Seneca Bark Longhouse

    Hours: Wednesday- Saturday |10 am – 4 pm (Closes October 28, 2023)

    The Ganondagan’s Indigenous Music and Arts Festival is just around the corner and I’m so excited. 

    Indigenous Music & Arts Festival

    July 22 and 23rd from 10am to 5pm

    According to the Ganondagan Website, “The annual event showcases Haudenosaunee and Indigenous cultures through dance, music, storytelling, traditional craft demonstrations, a Native American Arts Market, children’s activities, raffles, guided trail walks, gallery tours, Indigenous food, and more.”

    Artists include December Wind, the Sinquah Family Dance Troupe, The Indigenous Spirit Dancers, storyteller Ronnie Reitter, and more!

    Last year was the first time I attended the festival, and I wasn’t disappointed. I learned about social dances, wampum belts, and got introduced to some of the best Native artists around. 

    Shelley Morningsong, winner of the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards Artist of the Year Award with Husband and Creative Partner, Fabian Fontenelle in 2022

    I didn’t grow up around my culture but my roots are deep. Last year was like an epiphany. I finally figured out where I got my dancing from. Friends and family liked to tease at times, but I never cared enough to stop dancing. And after experiencing the music, I felt like I was home. There are videos I’ve taken where I think you hear me crying a little bit because it was an emotional experience.

    Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

    “And Then I Found Out He Was An Indian”

    I started intentionally exploring Indigenous music after seeing the movie Rumble. It’s amazing the lack of visibility Indigenous people have had in the media and this was a movie that really got my attention. Last year, I was watching the movie with my son who was seven at the time. He read on the screen “Native Americans” and hears the riff, then the documentary has my son’s attention. This delights my heart and makes my soul sing. He is Native, and if I were on a different roll, he may have been on a roll too. This displeases my heart and crushes my soul. So what is a mother to do to preserve her race? To keep the souls’ of her ancestors alive? She makes sure her children learn these stories and experiences the cultures while there are still seeds being planted.

    Rumble is a feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history and was released in 2017. The film features folks like Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, Steven Tyler, Iggy Pop, Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie and more! I highly recommend it, not just for the great tunes, but also because it’s a great educational and entertaining experience.

    The Native American Music Awards

    I also attended the Native American Music Awards with my son in 2022 which is like the Grammy’s for Indigenous Artists. Last year it was snowed out and rescheduled for during the week making it a more intimate experience with the artists and attendees. Rodney Grant who played “Wind in His Hair” int the 1990 film Dances With The Wolves hosted and won the Lifetime Achievement Award. “The event also honored Wisdom Keeper, Oren Lyons, a member of the Onondaga and Seneca nations, as a Living Legend who is an author and environmental activist for Indigenous peoples worldwide and is also in the All-American Lacrosse Hall of Fame.” The organization has yet to release the date for 2023.

    The Halluci Nation performs during the after party at the 2022 Native American Music Awards at the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino
    Blue Mountain Tribe who won Best Blues Video in Pray For Our Planet

    Native American Music Influences The World

    Native American music is a diverse and complex tradition that has been passed down for generations. It is a vital part of Native American culture and spirituality, and it has played an important role in the history of the United States.

    Native American music is often characterized by its use of percussion, chanting, and singing. Instruments such as drums, rattles, and flutes are commonly used, and the music often has a strong rhythmic feel. Native American music is often used for ceremonial purposes, and it can be very powerful and moving.

    The history of Native American music is long and rich. It has been influenced by many different cultures over the years, including European, African, and Asian cultures. Native American music has also influenced the development of American popular music, and it can be heard in the work of many contemporary artists.

    Indigenous music is a living tradition that continues to evolve. It is a vital part of Native American culture, and it is a source of pride and strength for Native Americans. You can experience the diversity of Indigenous music, art and culture by immersing yourself into an event or experience or checking out streaming shows like Rumble.

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