Indigenous cultural sites in New York to visit

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“Native New York” exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian | Photo courtesy of C&G Partners

“Native New York” exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian | Photo courtesy of C&G Partners

As we celebrate this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, October 11 – which was officially recognized as a national holiday in 2021 – and the upcoming American Indian National Heritage Month in November, we remember the beauty , strength and historical significance of First Peoples across the country.

And in all five boroughs, it’s also important to know that we New Yorkers currently reside on what was once the land of the Lenape peoples called Lenapehoking or Manhatta (meaning “hilly island”). Centuries later and having suffered involuntary displacement, the Lenape diaspora is found primarily in Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Ontario, but their impact in the Northeast is still very much felt and visible.

From annual Indigenous Peoples Day events like a performance-rich day-long gathering on Randall’s Island or a poetry reading (plus a nature hike) on Staten Island, to year-round programming hosted by institutions world famous, there are many ways to deepen our knowledge and pay homage to the first inhabitants of the region. Here are some ways to celebrate the heritage and culture of Indigenous peoples in New York this year.

Clay Pit Ponds State Park Reserve
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Reserve

Saturday October 8, 2-4 p.m.
Charleston
This weekend, get outdoors at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve in the Charleston neighborhood of Staten Island for a leisurely hike and poetry reading. Held at the nature preserve’s interpretive center, staff from Staten Island OutLOUD (a community organization that hosts literary readings and performances) will recite a collection of works by Native American poets, followed by a one-mile walk around of 265 acres—which are well known as Lenape Historic Lands.
Cost: The registry is free

Sunday, October 9, 2 p.m.
Circle of Columbus
On the border of Midtown and the Upper West Side, the well-known roundabout and park, Columbus Circle, annually hosts New York’s Native Remembrance Day. Unlike the Columbus Monument, which sits at the center of the property, the event comes together for its 15th edition this Sunday to honor Indigenous ancestry and demand justice for First Peoples across the country. Programming includes the singing of ancestral songs, drumming performances and speeches by community members. Contributions for the on-site altar such as fruits, seeds, shells and herbs are encouraged.
Cost: Participation is free

Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration
Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration | Photo courtesy of Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration

From Sunday 9 October to Monday 10 October
Randall’s Island
Claiming the title of one of the largest Indigenous celebrations in the Northeast, the 8th annual Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in New York City features two days of culture, music, dance, food and traditional ceremony on Randall’s Island. Co-founded by Sutton King, the president of the Urban Indigenous Collective and co-founder of ShockTalk, and Cliff Matias, the cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, guests can attend everything from poetry readings and speeches of activism at a live concert and water ceremony. Among the on-site vendors are a range of food stalls and locally made goods like clothing from Ojala Threads.
Cost: Free for entry

The National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center in New York
The National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center in New York | Photo by David Sundberg

All year
financial district
Since 1994, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has been a hub of history and in-depth understanding of Indigenous peoples from the earliest times to the present day. Located in Alexander Hamilton’s more than a century-old American Custom House, the museum offers year-round exhibits, dance and music performances, children’s programs, film screenings, etc Upcoming events include the Onsite Educators Open House, which is an organized tour of the galleries led by the museum’s education team on Monday, October 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as the 2022 Indigenous Cinema Showcase, which runs from November 18 to 25 and highlights Indigenous filmmakers.
Cost: Admission and events are free

American Indian Community House
American Indian Community House

All year
Chinese district
As a community organization created to support Native Americans and promote cross-cultural understanding, the American Indian Community House has been a safe space and beacon of information in New York’s Chinatown for more than 50 years. In addition to free online programming like the Elders Storytelling series and Womxn’s Gathering, the nonprofit is made up of members from more than 70 tribes who participate in and uplift local events, including a sunrise prayer in Central Park on Monday, October 10 at 7 a.m. Keep an eye on the website’s events page for more upcoming programs.

Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration
Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration | Photo courtesy of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council

All year
Borough Park
At the heart of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, the mission is to support Native American artists and art educators in the New York metropolitan area through song, dance, theater, and more. Founded in 1994, the organization’s upcoming events also weigh in on contemporary issues such as climate change, water rights and land preservation with in-person classes including green living and conservation programs. diversity. Additionally, the Redhawk Native American Arts Council is behind some of the largest celebrations of Native heritage, including the upcoming Native Peoples Day celebration on Randall’s Island and the Bear Mountain Native American Celebration, held annually in August at Harriman State Park.

All year
West Village
Founded in 1998, the National Association of Native American Music celebrates the rich musical heritage of First Peoples nationwide through a range of virtual programs, fundraisers and citywide initiatives. On the organization’s schedule, visitors will find mental health awareness benefits, holiday toy drives and instrument donations for veterans with PTSD. That being said, the star of the show is the annual NAMA Awards show (held this year in Niagara Falls, New York), which consists of a lively gala evening on the evening of November 19 where artists, record labels and Native American producers are spotlighted and praised for their work.
Cost: NAMA Awards Show Tickets from $77

Stone & Bone Staff
Stone & Bone Staff

All year
West Village
For owner Yolanda Miller, her Cherokee and Aztec heritage is at the forefront of her crystal store, Stick Stone & Bone. Since opening in 1990, this eclectic shop on Christopher Street has supplied the West Village with a vast array of raw minerals, jewelry, incense, candles and more from Native American artists, artisans and businesses. . Browse the shelves and tables of shimmering merchandise or opt for a handy manifestation and intention set like the House Cleansing and Blessing Kit, which provides energetic cleansing.

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Izzy Baskette is a writer for Thrillist New York. Find her on Instagram.

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