COOPERS PLAINS, NY (WENY) - The Native Nations Festival returned to Coopers Plains this weekend after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event last year.  

The intertribal festival featured live drumming, singing, and traditional dancing from an array of performers. The festival also had traditional arts & crafts, as well as intertribal teachings, hands-on native games, and Native American foods. The event was free of charge to attend.   

The festival also observed current issues within Native American Culture. Red dresses were hung around the festival in observance of the 84% demographic of Native American women who’ve experienced violence in their lifetime. In addition, a line of kid’s shoes was placed throughout the festival in remembering thousands of Native American children who, from 1869 to 1960, were removed from their homes and placed into boarding schools operated by the federal government.  

Grandmother and Beaver Clan Mother Pudding Stone is no stranger to the Native Nations Festival. She expressed the joy of being back in a positive environment.  

“We are all friends here,” Stone said. “There’s so many wonderful people here to share the culture in a positive way and not in a negative way. We’ve had so many negative things lately... come here and get a positive vibration.”  

Thomas Cook is a Mohawk from Akwesasne responsible for helping organize the event. The festival’s return in person showcased his desire to educate local future generations.  

“It’s all education for us,” Cook said. “If we can bring the children here and their parents bring them here, we can educate the next generation to understand what Native American culture really is.”  

He continued by explaining his purpose for wanting to shed light on Native American culture.  

“We've had a lot of misappropriation through the years of Native American culture,” Cook said. “To truly see what it is, our regalia... what the dancing and our songs mean to ourselves and our people and they actually get to learn that... It’s very important to us that the next generation learns what true Native American culture is and that’s what we bring here.”  

The Native Nations Festival is an annual event put on the Seven Generations of Stewards Inc. The company is dedicated to spreading awareness of Native American culture in New York and beyond.