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May 16, 2013

Festival to celebrate Iroquois culture

Cooperstown Crier

---- — New demonstrations and artists will expand the Iroquois Cultural Festival, which is in its second year.

The festival is held on Memorial Day weekend, May 25 to 26, on the lakefront lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum. Activities will include a gathering of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artisans, dancers, musicians and interpreters.

Joining the festival this year, Ronnileigh Goeman, Onondaga, will demonstrate traditional Iroquois methods of weaving ash and sweet grass into baskets and embellishing them with moose hair and quills. Barry Keegan will show the process of knapping flint to create tools throughout the festival.

On Saturday, visitors can watch an exposition of lacrosse, a game played to settle disputes, essential to keeping the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy together.

Darren Bonaparte, Mohawk, will provide interpretation and insight into Iroquois life at “Otsego: A Meeting Place” and its Seneca Log House and Mohawk Bark House.

Another highlight of the weekend is a concert by Haudenosaunee singer, composer and Grammy Award winner Joanne Shenandoah at 7 p.m., Saturday at The Farmers’ Museum. Tickets are $20 and available at the museum shops or the Fenimore’s website.

With admission to the festival, visitors can also explore two exhibitions of extraordinary Native American art: The “Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art “and “Splendidly Dressed: American Indian Robes and Regalia.” In addition, an exhibition of 16 Iroquois artists from New York state is on display: “Native Roots: The 9th Annual Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial.”

The popular and energetic storyteller Perry Ground, Onondaga, will return to the festival, embodying Iroquois oral tradition, in which stories are told to teach as well as provide enjoyment. Perry learned most of the stories he shares from the elders of various Native American communities and feels that practicing and perpetuating the oral traditions of Native people is an important responsibility, according to a media release.

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) singers and dancers will perform on Sunday afternoon, providing the opportunity for everyone to join in a social tradition.

Under the main tent, more than 30 artisans specializing in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artwork and crafts will demonstrate and sell basketry, quillwork, stone carving, jewelry, art, doll making, beadwork and more.

The festival is hosted by the New York State Historical Association, in partnership with the Iroquois Indian Museum.

“Through the festival and other programs, NYSHA seeks to further educate the public about Haudenosaunee culture, both past and present,” Garet Livermore, Vice President for Education, said in the release.

The festival is made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Iroquois Cultural Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fenimore Art Museum. Festival and concert admission may be purchased separately. Festival admission is $12 for adults and juniors (13-64), $10.50 for seniors (65 and older) and free for children (12 and younger). Admission is always free for NYSHA members, active military and retired career military personnel.

For more information and a detailed schedule, visit