Bear Mountain Pow Wow One of New York's Finest

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Kevin A. Thompson
August 4, 2023

(Photo of Bear Mountain Bridge, seen from Bear Mountain, Indian signal site and home of annual pow wow)

Our first powwow this season was the Bear Mountain Pow wow, held in the mountains surrounding the Mohikanituck (Hudson River), north of New York City. 

This is Lenape Hoking, land of the Algonquin Lenape people. It includes Connecticut, New York’s Long Island, New York City, the lower Hudson Valley, and northern New Jersey.  Local news calls it “the Tri-State Area.”

Vendors, drummers and a motorcycle club came  from the Seneca Nation in Western New York State.  There were also craft vendors from South America, a Jamaican food stand,  and Aztec dancers from Mexico. The aroma of sage wafted across the dance circle, as the Aztecs/Michica bring their own incense/sage burner into the dance circle with them.   

Bear Mountain Pow wow is sponsored by Red Hawk Council of New York City. There was competitive dancing, but also many inter-tribal dances, where everyone was welcome to join in. There was a 50-50 raffle with a prize of $400.00. 

There’s something about the way the drumming and singing echoes amongst the lush, green mountains. Winter weather might force northern pow wows indoors, but for me the atmosphere is better under the open sky.

My youngest daughter’s insistence drew us back into pow wow’ing post-covid. She, my wife, and I danced in the  Grand Entry. The girl is a flute-player, and we bought an Andean flute from an Ecuadoran vendor; and a Native flute made from PVC piping.

As this was Lenape Hoking, where many of the Indigenous Communities, including the federally-recognized nations, have a diverse set of appearances, we felt fully welcome at this event. This is what makes this region feel like home.