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Cissie & Savanna Sky, Iroquois Festival, September 1999
Cissie and Savanna Sky, Iroquois Festival, September 1999. Photo: Bill Dalzell

Iroquois Festival

This annual celebration of the history and culture of the Iroquois Nation in Howes Cave, New York, has been held since 1982, one year after the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave was founded. The museum's mission is to educate the public about the Iroquois, by collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting their arts.

It also sponsors the festival, held over Labor Day weekend, and festival admission includes admission to the museum, which contains exhibits of archeology, history, and contemporary Iroquois arts. Headlining the 1999 festival was the national dance troupe, Sky Dancers, led by Jim Sky of the Onondaga Nation. Their social dances have been passed down through generations, and remain among the most unchanged Native American traditions.

The festival featured an arts market of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists and crafters, who set up tents from which they showed and sold work, which included antler carving, basketry, beadwork, ceramics, feather work, leatherwork, textiles, silverwork, and woodwork. Many children's activities, such as face painting, cornhusk doll making, T-shirt painting, and beadworking, were offered at the craft tent. A scavenger hunt in the artists' tents encouraged visitors to talk with the many Iroquois people in attendance. Other festival activities included story telling, puppet shows, nature tours, an archeology tent, and lacrosse demonstrations. Native foods featured corn soup, venison, a strawberry drink, and fry bread.

Documentation includes text, a 20-minute videotape, 20 slides, a history of the museum, promotional materials, and an audio tape of an interview with festival participants.

Originally submitted by: Sherwood L. Boehlert, Representative (23rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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