The rhythm is gonna get you!

The Thunderbird American Indian Powwow will unfold at the Queens County Farm Museum from Friday, July 26, to Sunday, July 28.

Now in its 41st year, the three-day cultural exchange features inter-tribal dance competitions between more than 40 Indian Nations — including the Cherokee, Choctaw, Delaware, Hopi, Kiowa, Kuna, Lakota, Matinecock, Navajo, Osagem, Rappahanock, San Blas, Santo Domingo, Shinnecock, Taino and Winnebago. About 200 participants will wear colorful costumes and perform ancient rituals such as Gourd Singing and Hoop, Smoke, Grass and Yaqui Deer dances in the apple orchard. They’ll compete in such categories as Old-Style Traditional and Fancy-Dress for monetary prizes, fun and glory.

Prices run from $5 to $16, and part of the proceeds will fund a Native American scholarship program.

It’s a spectator event, and several thousand people are expected. But it’s also a great social gathering for many of the participants, who travel from around the United States and even Canada, Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico.

As in past years, Lewis Mofsie — a Brooklyn native who is half Hopi and half Winnebago — will be the master of ceremonies. A retired public school art teacher, he’s a nationally recognized authority on Native American history and culture.

“Most people think of Native American culture as a thing of the past,” said Mofsie, who has helped organize the event since the first one in 1978. “This Powwow showcases a living, developing culture. This is a wonderfully educational and entertaining cultural event.”

Bonfire ceremonies are scheduled for both nights, and crafters will sell their products (i.e. Kachina dolls, jewelry, weaved embroidery), while food vendors will offer such dishes as alligator jerky, baked bread with honey and cinnamon, and Navajo tacos. Fry bread, a plate of deep-fried confection, is always a popular item. It’s usually eaten with stew or a handful of strawberries sprinkled on top.

The gates open on Friday at 6 p.m. and on the weekend days at 10 a.m. Performances are Friday, 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The bonfires are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., weather permitting.

Queens Farm spreads over 47 acres, and attendees will be able to take a break from the Powwow and go on hayrides, get up close to animals in a petting zoo, and frolic in the countless gardens. In operation since 1697, Queens Farm is the Big Apple’s only working, undisturbed farm with livestock, heavy machinery, planting fields and a vineyard.

The entrance is at 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy. in Glen Oaks, and there’s free on-site parking.

Images: John Ramirez


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