The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers
The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers are the oldest resident Native American dance company in New York. The troupe was founded in 1963 by a group of ten Native American men and women, all New Yorkers, who were descended from Mohawk, Hopi, Winnebago and San Blas tribes. Some were in school at the time; all were “first generation,” meaning that their parents had been born on reservations. They founded the troupe to keep alive the traditions, songs and dances they had learned from their parents, and added to their repertoire from other Native Americans living in New York and some who were passing through. Within three or four years, they were traveling throughout the continental U.S., expanding and sharing their repertoire and gleaning new dances on the reservations. (A number of Thunderbird members are winners of Fancy Dance contests held on reservations, where the standard of competition is unmistakably high.) Members of the Thunderbirds range in professions from teachers to hospital patient advocates, tree surgeons and computer engineers who share a commitment to raising scholarships for young American Indian students. Over the years, Thunderbird works, activities and events have assisted more than 400 students. Orgiginal members included: Louis Mofsie, Josephine Mofsie Tarrant, Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Marguarite, Jonathan Williams and others. Swift Eagle from the Santo Domingo Pueblo and others taught the group Native American Indian culture, dances, songs passing down information that would have otherwise been lost.
Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers
Luis and Rose Salinas and thier family appear at cultural events and festivals throughout the U.S. where they perform their dances wearing “full traditional regalia,” of vibrant colored feathers from pheasants, roosters and macaws, animal shaped headdresses and animal skin robes.
As part of the dance performance, they explain the relationship between their movements and the music to their customs and traditions.
Growing up in Mexico City, thier dances are a way to instill an appreciation of their heritage in each succeeding generation. The Salinas family has performed them most of their lives.
In the Aztec culture, a traditional fire dance can last up to two hours and was performed only once every 52 years, which is considered the Aztec cycle for life. Salinas and his troupe will offer a short version.
Perry Ground - Story Teller
Perry Ground is a traditional Native American story tell from the Onondaga Nation. He uses traditional storytelling to promote understanding and appreciation of the history, culture, and beliefs of the Haudenosaunee. His presentations and publications have been featured by the National Museum of the American Indian, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Iroquois Indian Museum, and at museums, parks, schools, universities, and festivals throughout the country.
Perry recently was appointed a Minett Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology - a very prestigious position.
A quote about his story telling goes, “They are human stories,” he says. “And they remind us who we are supposed to be as human beings, how we are supposed to act, how we are supposed to interact with other people and the world around us.”
We look forward to this addition for 2022!
Old Bridge Singers
Note: Old Bridge will not attend in 2022 because they have a host drum opportunity. They have been a part of the NNF since 2018 and they will truly be missed.
The Old Bridge Singers & Dancers come from the Ohi:yo’, or Allegany, Territory in Western New York. The Native American group travels and shares not only the songs and dances of the Haudenosaunee, but Western powwow singing as well. The group is named after three bridges on their territory that were flooded when the Kinzua Dam was built in the 1960s.
During their performance the group showcases and share earth songs, also referred to as social dances. These are songs and dances that the Haudenosaunee — also known as the Iroquois Confederacy — use to have fun and uplift the spirits of the people.