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The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers

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.

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Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers

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.

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Old Bridge Singers

Old Bridge Singers

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.

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