Pow Wow Summer Guide: Northeast Region
Summer is nearly here, which means the pow wow season is about to really heat up. That’s why we’ve put together a simplified guide for any pow wow lovin’ guy or gal out there who may want to fire up the car, throw the kids in the backseat, and pin a road map on the dash (it’s more romantic to imagine it that way, GPS device be damned) and blaze the perfect pow wow trail. We’ve broken the country up into six regions, but by no means is this list comprehensive—the modern pow wow schedule is so varied and stimulating that it would take many more pages (and staff members!) to come up with anything that could even begin to capture the breadth of the upcoming pow wow offerings. This is merely a quick peek at a few pow wows that caught our eye, and that might, should you attend, sooth your soul.
So come for a ride down both coasts, across the often-great plains, over those majestic mountains and into the desert—no matter where you may roam, there’s likely a pow wow you’ll want to attend.
Unless you happen to be reading this in Harvard Square (and thus can attend the 16th Annual Harvard University Powwow on Saturday, April 30 held on Radcliffe Lawn) we suggest you head south (but not too far south) to Maryland on Friday, May 20 and check out the American Indian Pow-Wow and Show at the Eventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds on 797 E. Patrick Street, in Frederick, Maryland. The grand entry begins at noon, and more than 50 tribes will be represented, including the Haliwa-Saponi, Piscataway, Cherokee, Sioux, Iroquois, Lumbee, Hopi, and Rappahannock, to name but a few. Hundreds of dancers, singers, drummers and artists will be there, including daily performances from Mohawk hoop dancer Pete Four Winds. For more information, call 252-532-0821.
The 18th Annual Drums on the Pocomoke Pow Wow on Saturday, May 21 is hosted by the Assateague People of Delmarva, in Cypress Park in Pocomoke City, Maryland (right off of Ocean Highway 13). Pocomoke City is situated on the banks of the Pocomoke River, and the park is a beautiful place to take in the sights and sounds of this pow wow, that will include storytelling and demonstrations in dance accompanying the traditional dancing and drumming (all drums are welcome!). For more information, visit
On Sunday, May 22, you can catch the last day of the Native American Cultural Awareness Pow-Wow at the National Guard Armory at 70 Victory Road in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, the Cultural Awareness Pow-Wow has become an integral part of the pow wow circuit in the Northeast. For more information, visit Mcnaa.org.
Over Memorial Day weekend, head on down to Pennsylvania Saturday, May 28, for the 18th Annual Cherokee Indian Festival in Ambler, held on a satellite campus of Temple University. The Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy of Pennsylvania has been raising awareness of American Indian heritage and culture in the area since 1988, giving lectures at local schools, colleges, universities and churches about the Cherokee language, beadwork and leather work and dancing. There’s no better place to see all of this on display than at the annual Indian Festival. Veterans are honored, visitors are awed. Head to 580 Meetinghouse Road in Ambler, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit SeCherokee-ConfederacyPa.org/events.html.
Heading north from Pennsylvania after the Memorial Day Weekend it’s time to experience Big City Pow Wow-ing. New York City’s got two great events: First, The Gateway to Nations New York Native American Celebration from June 3-5. Located at Floyd Bennett Field (50 Aviation Road in Brooklyn) and sponsored by the Redhawk Indian Arts Council. The Gateway to Nations offers three days of song, dance (the Pura Women’s fancy dance is always a crowd pleaser), crafts, jewelry, drum competition, mechanical bull riding and food. For more information, visit RedHawkCouncil.org.
Also in the Big Apple, you can check out the 33rd Annual Thunderbird American Mid-Summer Pow Wow, which takes place from July 29-31 in Queens and is the city’s oldest and largest pow wow, with more than 40 Indian nations represented. Located at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, on an apple orchard attached to the Queens Farm Museum, which is part of the largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland in the city. The pow wow has the Tlacopan Aztec Dancers and a sunset bonfire to complement the traditional dance and drum contests. For more information, visit QueensFarm.org.
Back to Pennsylvania we go. The 13th Annual Native American Festival held by the Lenapé Nation August 20-21 in the town of Saltsburg at 236 Skyline Drive. This year the Lenapé are celebrating the addition of a Medicine Wheel Garden—the reconstruction of their pine arbor into a living arbor made of sycamore trees—and the grand opening of the Medicine Wheel Center for Self Healing in Delmont, Pennsylvania. The festival offers family fun, including a scavenger hunt, candy dance, tomahawk-throwing tournament and crafts, along with the traditional pow wow excitement. For more information, visit ThunderMtLenape.org.
Sticking to the Keystone State during the same weekend, on August 20-21, the 31st Annual Roasting Ears of Corn Festival takes place at 2825 Fish Hatchery Road in Allentown. This is Pennsylvania’s oldest American Indian festival, and with the White Buffalo Singers acting as host drum this year it is sure to be a great time. There will be Iroquois social dancing, Aztec fire dancing, Native cooking demonstrations, a children’s craft and face-painting area, and tomahawk and atlatl throwing (it’s a type of spear) as just a few of the festivities planned for the event. For more information, visit MuseumofIndianCulture.org.
If Pennsylvania doesn’t have anything that piques your interest, there’s always the Mohegan Annual Wigwam Festival held August 20-21, at Fort Shantok in Uncasville, Connecticut. The drums will include Unity of the Nations, Mystic River and the Rez Dogs, and the MC will be Aaron Athey. For more information, call 800-664-3426, or visit
Rounding out this tour of the Northeast, there is also the 65th Annual Shinnecock Pow Wow over Labor Day weekend, in Southampton, New York from September 2-5, on the Shinnecock Reservation. (Last year, the Shinnecocks were finally federally recognized—the 565th tribe to earn this designation.) This 1,300-member Long Island tribe, “the People of the Shore,” celebrate with this pow wow on their beautiful reservation rain or shine, just as they’ve always done since 1946. For more information, visit ShinnecockNation.com.