Thursday, June 2, 2011

The 'Gateway' to Native American culture

By Alex Rush

When you can find hula-clad performers, intricate feathered headdresses and a daring dance with fire in Brooklyn, that can only mean one thing — Floyd Bennett Field’s annual celebration of Native American culture is back.

From June 3 to 5, more than 1,000 artist, performers, scholars and food vendors will take over the park for the annual Gateway to Nations festival.
One of the main events at this powerful powwow are the thrilling dance contests, which pay homage to the competitions that began between in Oklahoma more than a century ago, according to event organizer Cliff Matis.

“Various tribes wanted to showcase their unique dance styles, regalia and costumes,” said Matis, whose Redhawk Native American Arts Council has run the event for 17 years.

Many of the dances will honor nature, such as an indigenous Peruvian dance dedicated to the Andes Mountains.

When you’re not watching the feather-and-bead-clad performers, you can browse the jewelry booths and feast on rustic dishes like venison stew and corn soup.

“Our goal is to celebrate and teach the contributions of the indigenous people of the Americas to American culture,” Matis said.

Gateway to Nations at Aviator Sports and Event Center [3159 Flatbush Ave. off the Belt Parkway in Marine Park, (718) 758-7500], June 3, 10 am–4 pm; June 4 and 5, 11 am-7 pm. Admission $12, $7 for young adults and seniors, children under six are free. For info, visit


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