As a person who appreciates and creates art, I cannot but be pleasantly surprised that in times like this, when it is so difficult for everybody, there are people who are really blessed to to be able to earn bread and butter with their unique talents.
I feel so inspired and so motivated by what I saw at the festival, that I really wanted to share with you the amazing work of these people.
You might think that the child-like excitement is unusual for me but I am really extatic about the things I learned and the people I met and I deeply admire the talents of each and every one of them.
The first thing I saw when I walked in was the pottery of Ada Jacques ( Onondaga, Turtle Clan). Here pottery is not just like a regular pottery. You can see the spirit of the past in them, telling you stories from long ago.
Then I stumbled upon this talented lady’s booth and saw here making a turtle totem pole, right there! It was so unbelievable watching her work that I didn’t want to bother her with questions, but a little boy was so interested in the totems that she left here work and started explaining what a totem means and why it has turtles, how you make one etc.
Here totem poles were beautiful works of art! Her name is Andree Dennis Newton and she makes many more things, not only totem poles.
The things you see here are Adirondack Spirit Gourd masks. Preparation of the hard shell gourds involves wetting them down, scrubbing clean the outer shell, cutting, soaking, and scraping the interior, and then drying them again before beginning the mask facing. The gourds are colored with stains, oils, acrylics, and sand, then adorned with unique materials including feathers, horse hair, porcupine quills, glass, stone, bone, beads, and tamarack cones, as she writes in her website.
The amazing bone bracelets and chokers are some of the things that were plenty and from beautiful to incomparable. They were worn as ornamentation and for protection too ( They provided physical protection of the neck and the jugular vein during battle and fighting ). Bone chokers varied in style from tribe to tribe. Usually they are made from hair pipe bones,leather strips and both glass and metal beads.
I found this amazing article on bone chokers, that explained that on top of physical protection, bone chokers are also believed to provide spiritual protection of the voice. By wearing it, the spirits of the animal they come from can provide protection from all kinds of sicknesses.
It is also believed that the spirit will also provide you great speaking ability, to speak from the heart so to say. In this article the author was explaining that there is a different meaning for each strand the choker has:
1) One God
4) Earthly Situations/Seasons/The Four Directions.
5) God On Top
6) Human Accomplishment
7) Spiritual Perfection
8) New Beginning
Take a look at the website, it has very interesting information you might like!
And what is a native American festival without dream catchers? The dream catchers are believed to entangle in their “web” the bad dreams and slip the good ones through the center whole. Check out this very interesting legend about the dream catchers.
I have always been fond of dolls, but the Native American ones hold a special charm for me. Made out of clay by Tammy Tarbell-Boehning these are the dream of every girl- big or small and an amazing collectible too!
One of the big surprises of the festival for me was this craft, that I had never imagined to be done this way! Michael and Tonia” Iakonikonriio” Galban are an artistic duo in craft and real life too.
The craft that Michael was demonstrating was porcupine quill work. You can read more about it on Michel and Tonia’s website here.
I asked Michael to demonstrate for me how exactly he does it and he gladly obliged.
First, he soaks the quills, then he cut’s the ends and then he sews them on piece of leather.
The amount of work you put in such a piece is breathtaking! He said that it takes 25-35 hours to finish a piece! He is making reproductions for museums, historic sites, movies and private collectors.
Talking about talented people, check out this video that was made on of James Durand Flint Knapper, introducing the Ishi Stick and who it was named after on the day of the Native American Festival.
A very talented master flute maker and recording artist Al Cleveland shared his knowledge of flutes in the morning part of the festival.
I have listened to him and I was thinking….I always loved music. I myself play the piano a little bit, but always enjoyed others to play for me better. However, I have a thing for flutes and bagpipes. If there is an instrument that I believe plays right from the hearth and into the soul…I believe that is the fluite. Don’t believe me? Check out his CD and then tell me about it!!!
Last but not least of the vendors I want to tell you about two people who devoted their lives to preserve the tradition of Abenaki basket making. Sherry and Bill Gould are Western Abenaki Brown Ash basket makers, making their baskets the traditional way. I had the privilege to watch them both work and I was amazed how simple yet effective this method is!
Bill makes a tiny cut, then with a wooden hammer hammers on top of the wood and thing strip peels off the tree.
Two artists also captured my attention.
David Kanietakeron Fadden ( Mohawk painter and storyteller from the Wolf clan) who grew up in a traditional family of artists, naturalists and storytellers. His illustrations have appeared in books, periodicals, animations, and the Discovery Channel’s “How the West Was Lost: Always the Enemy.”
Here is one of his books for children, When the Shadbush Blooms
The second painter was Dawn Dark Mountain( Oneida tribe of Wisconsin), that had presented the most incredible watercolor paintings and prints I’ve EVER seen! Her work is so crisp and inviting, I don’t believe anybody who sees it can easily forget it.
I encourage you to check out her website, you wouldn’t regret it!
There was a lot of fun for the kids too! A whole tent of things like basket weaving with plastic cups, scavenger hunts, bead accessory, face painting etc.
The scavenger hunt was organized by Children and Nature Saratoga .
Check out their website, you can find out about awesome feature events for kiddos, books etc.
And since every good Native American festival needs storytellers and singers this one had plenty!
I want to mention the brilliant, engaging and amusing performances of James Bruchac, author, animal tracker, cultural eduator and wildernes expert( see picture left), Perry Ground ( see picture right), Kay Ionataiewas Olan, Kontiwennahawi ( women singers), David Kaniatakeron Fadden, Downland Singers, Nettukkusq Singers, Tom Obomsawin, Iron River Singers( check out their videos here ), Rez Dogs and Shenandoah Dancers.
You can check out the videos feauturing some of the story tellers and musicians
I wish there was time to show you more, unfortunately there were so many people, that I would need to write a book to be able to fit them all in.
Next part would show the traditional dancing and a special post dedicated to a special person.