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Native musicians to play concert in New York City

NEW YORK – American Indian artists R. Carlos Nakai and Victorio Roland Mousaa as well as Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and more than 40 other award-winning artists are scheduled to perform May 3 at Madison Square Garden for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday benefit concert.

The concert, officially dubbed “The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next generation of Environmental Leaders” will also include performances by Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle, Joan Baez, John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, and Ben Harper. Other performances as part of the Native American Indian Cultural Alliance will include, Tom Pacheco, Vernon Masayesva, Bill Miller, Joanne Shenandoah, Joseph Firecrow, David Amram, Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Margo Thunderbird.

The Clearwater organization, which conducts environmental education, advocacy programs and celebrations to protect the Hudson River, is hosting the event. Proceeds from the concert will support the organization’s 106-foot sailing vessel, which travels along the Hudson teaching ecological oriented expeditions.

Clearwater’s mission, “to preserve and protect the Hudson River through inspiration, education and action” has been a motivating force to American Indian artist Mousaa, one of the performers and organizers of the event.

Mousaa, who has known Seeger closely for more than 40 years, is familiar with struggle and has long fought for what he believes in.

Raised from age 4 at St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Denver, Colo., Mousaa was sent to farms to work until he finished high school in 1968. Mousaa pursued folk music, hitchhiked to New York, and worked with the American Indian Movement.

Mousaa has worked with Seeger in civil rights, anti-nuclear and Vietnam demonstrations and performed with musicians including Bob Dylan and Richie Havens, who in 1974 recorded “The Indian Prayer,” co-written by Pacheco and Mousaa.

When Seeger asked Mousaa to perform “The Indian Prayer” at his 90th birthday benefit concert, Mousaa mentioned other American Indian artists should also take part.

Seeger agreed and Mousaa has been gathering a large array of Indian artists. “We all have to work together. That is the greatest feeling, when we can all unite together

as one.”

Mousaa is glad to be part of an event that supports Clearwater, which started because of Seeger.

In 1966, Seeger decided to “build a boat to save the river” with a vision of a sloop-style sailing vessel that once traversed the Hudson River in the 18th and 19th centuries. Seeger’s vision came true, and in 1969, the sloop vessel Clearwater made its debut. It has been sailing since.

“Pete Seeger’s historic contributions to the environmental movement and the fight for social justice have inspired millions of people,” said Jeff Rumpf, Clearwater’s executive director. “Approaching 90, his great deeds shine on and continue to remind us that nothing is beyond our reach.”

According to Clearwater, since 1969 nearly 500,000 people have experienced the Hudson River environmentally by way of its living organisms, water chemistry and ecological principals onboard the Clearwater.

Among the first vessels in the U.S. to conduct environmental education aboard a sailing ship, the Clearwater was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Today, Clearwater’s environmental education programs cater to 15,000 students and teachers each year. In addition, members of the Clearwater organization have successfully helped push for passage of the Clean Water Act and have consistently fought for the removal of toxic Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from the Hudson River.

According to Rumpf, the success of the concert is due to the combination of Clearwater’s message and a strong Native message. “Our strategy for success, which originated from Pete Seeger, is that you need to inspire before you educate and activate. Millions of people have heard our message through music.

“We really wanted in this concert, the spirit of the Native American. They were here before any of us got here, and they were doing things right.”

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com.

In addition to the concert, the Clearwater organization presents its Great Hudson River Revival every June at Croton Point Park in Westchester County, an hour north of New York City. This year’s two-day music festival will be June 20 and 21.