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Mid-summer Pow Wow to honor native American heritage, culture

Floral Park’s Queens County Farm Museum will be transformed into a native American meeting ground July 29-31.

The 33rd-annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow features more than 35 Indian nations which will demonstrate their dances, crafts, food and tribal customs.

“A powwow is basically a social gathering. We open it up to everyone to come in and dance. We also have dance contests,” event founder and director Louise Mofsie said.

The event is the largest and longest-running powwow in New York City.

Mofsie sees the event as a way to encourage attendees to think more carefully about reservation issues and legislation concerning the earth.

“I hope that people who come leave with a better understanding of native culture,” Mofsie said.

Indian nations from all across America and Canada participate in this event. This year a group from Mexico will be performing Aztec dances as well.

“This powwow has become an important New York tradition. People get to enjoy beautiful, natural surroundings and experience native American culture. It’s a great family-friendly event,” Shawn Termin, program producer of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, said.

The event is organized by the New York-based Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, which works to pass on native American customs and values through festivals and summer workshops for children.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Victoria Tarrant, a Thunderbird member and a community health representative at the American Indian Community House in Manhattan, who takes part in the dances.

Tarrant, a member of the Mandan Hidatsa tribe, is originally from North Dakota. For her, this powwow is the only time she can see many of her family and friends.

Although dancing is the focus of the event, vendors will sell traditional food and jewelry. The entire family can also participate in dancing around bonfires on Friday and Saturday nights.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and under. Weekend passes are available for $15 and $7, respectively.

Proceeds from the festival go to the Queens County Farm Museum and fund fall and spring scholarships that the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers offer to native American students.

“I’m very happy to see the younger generation keep the tradition of the powwow going,” Mofsie said. “Over the years, the younger native Americans have seen the value in the traditions and beliefs of the people.”

Further information can be found at thunderbirdamericanindiandancers.wordpress.com/events/annual-thunderbird-pow-wow/.

Reach reporter Evelyn Cheng by phone at 718-260-4524.

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