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New York City Dance Parade Showcases American Indian Heritage

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American Indians lead the celebration at the fifth annual New York City Dance Parade. More than 8,000 dancers and 176 dance groups strutted their stuff along the parade route, which began on 21st street between Park and Fifth Avenue. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council was invited to lead the permission of groups and they ventured on the 1.5 mile parade route down Boradway throughout lower Manhattan.

More then 45,000 spectators who turned out to see groups from as far away as Japan (a Japanese group kicked off the parade in honor of the earthquake victims.) "The crowed really showed a lot of love for us," men’s traditional dancer George Michael told the Redhawk Native American Arts Council's Cliff Matias, "they made me feel proud to be a First Nations person." The Arts Council had nine dancers in the parade.

Along with the Redhawk Native American Art Council (the only North American Indigenous group performing) there were many Indigenous communities represented, from South America and Mexico. Jennen Yazzie, a Navajo from Arizona who now lives in New York City, told Matias, “I had so much fun with my two year old son, we sat in the back of the pickup waving at the spectators."

The parade wasn't only about dancing and good times for the council. Their cultural director, Emily Jefferies, said in a press release that the larger mission was to highlight their culture and show the public the beauty of Native American dance.

The council also used the parade as way of promoting their upcoming event, the 17th annual Gateway to Nations Pow Wow happening on June 3-5.