NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Native American dance and culture was on full display in New Rochelle on Tuesday night, as members the Redhawk Dance Troupe showed off some of their finest steps for a capacity audience.
The Native American performance was a part of the New Rochelle Public Library’s first annual international music and dance program, which will feature more than 240 programs highlighting other cultures over six weeks.
After a short group dance to introduce the four performers, Cliff Matias – who serves as the cultural director for the Redhawk Nation American Arts Council - walked the audience through the history of three other traditional dances, which were performed by his fellow Redhawk Dance Troupe members.
Following that performance, audience members were brought on stage to perform an Iroquois Smoke Dance, which was demonstrated by Raven.
“The smoke dance is something that is done socially, it’s something of a competition dance. It’s about who is the best and the fastest,” Matias said. “You don’t have to be an Iroquois to participate in the dance; the Native Americans are all about haring cultures.”
Led by Matias on the drum and microphone, the emcee intertwined various tribes’ native dances with historical stories and lessons on Native American culture.
“If you know nothing about Native American history, then you know nothing about American history,” he shouted to the audience. “We’re here today to break some stereotypes some people might have.”
Matias recently made headlines for criticizing Khloe Kardashian, after she posted what he felt was an offensive image of her dressed in traditional Native American garb on a social media site. Matias made light of the incident, noting that he only hoped to educate the masses.
“We simply want to make people accountable for their actions,” he said. “Those headdresses we traditionally wear are greatly respected and are important parts of our traditions.”