September 3, 2010

Shinnecock Pow Wow

Ah, Labor Day! Those two words mean that I am looking at the beginning of a relaxing 4-day weekend. It also means that the Shinnecock Pow Wow is on. If you happen to be anywhere near the east end of Long Island over the next few days, I highly recommend this fascinating event. I made it out to the festival in 2009 and it was great!

So, how fun is the Shinnecock Pow Wow? Hmmm. Where do I begin?

As the front tires of my car touched down on the soils of the Shinnecock Reservation, I could already hear the sound of tribal drums and chants in the distance. The steady pulse of those rhythms has a definite way of awakening the spirit and creeping into the heart. By my ear alone, I knew before I entered the Pow Wow that I was in for a marvelous experience.

The Pow Wow takes place mainly on a large, open field. Booths are set up everywhere, selling a great variety of things: Native American jewelry, food, clothing and arts, blankets, pottery, toy drums and pipes, CDs of tribal music, etc. One could stroll around for hours, getting lost in the labyrinth of vendors that mostly make up the grounds.

By mid-afternoon, the Pow Wow really fills up. Thousands of people mill around, sampling the vendors' wares, taking photographs, eating, dancing, smiling. A queue line forms around the block of people still trying to get in and Pow Wow-bound cars back up traffic on Sunrise Highway for miles.

Of course, the main event of the Pow Wow is the tribal dancing. A procession of dancers bisects the audience, winding its way to the earthen stage. Ornate costumes, headdresses, and jewelry sparkle in the mid-day sun, looking vivid and lively. I leaned up against the stage, camera in hand, surrounded by the beating of the drums, and allowed myself to become mesmerized by the movements of the dancers. This is an absolutely stunning thing to watch!

Today, may your soul dance to a spiritual rhythm!

"For great is your love,
reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches
to the skies."

~Psalm 57:10