About the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival
The Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival has brought Indigenous music, wisdom, arts and culture to Mexico NY on Memorial Day weekend for the past five years.
It is a two-day, interactive Native American educational and cultural event which continues to be an enormous success and is the ONLY festival of its kind in Oswego County.
The goal of the Native Circle is an intentional effort to expose local and visiting youth and adults to Native American arts and culture with diverse and talented award-winning Native American performers and presenters who have graced our stage each and every year.
This free family oriented-event has featured award winning Native American Artists from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pulaski, and Mexico NY:
- Thunder Hawk Singers, 2009 Native American Music Award winners for their CD Native Pride; 2010 Native American Music Award nominees for their contribution to the compilation CD Rise Up
- Owl & Dove, formerly known as Sacred Winds, 2010 Native American Music Award nominees for their compilation CD The Best of Searching Owl; 2010 Native American Music Award nominees for their contribution to the compilation CD Rise Up
- Joseph Firecrow, 2007 GRAMMY™ nominated and Native American Music Award winning flute player; 2010 Native American Music Award winner for Artist of the Year & Flutist of the Year for his brand new CD Face The Music
- The Storytellers, 2008 & 2010 Native American Music Award winners for Best Spoken Word Recording; 2010 Native American Music Award nominees for their contribution to the compilation CD Rise Up
- Corn Bred, winners of the 2007 NAMMY™ for Best Blues Jazz Recording
Educational presenters have included:
- Laura K. Vannah’s “Totem Spirits” workshop
- Nancy Kaiser’s interactive Wild Spring Edibles lecture and nature walk
- Richard & Leslie LaCrosse’s Native American pre-contact wigwam camp site
- Kenvyn Richard’s wood-carving demonstrations
- The Salmon River International Sport and Fishing Museum walk-in displays
- An interactive hands-on demonstration by Narrow Gate Farms of the many stages wool takes to become a usable product
- Vicky Shenandoah, from the Oneida Nation, demonstrating traditional bead-working
- Mary Gillen’s “Reiki for Animals & People” presentation
- People of the Standing Stone Dancers Iroquois Social Dancers from the Oneida Nation, who were added in 2010.
For young families, The Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival provides activities and entertainment for children at its popular Children’s Activity Area, which features making bracelets and painting “spirit rocks”.
The activities are carefully chosen to inform, entertain and educate youngsters, but visitors of all ages loved these presentations and demonstrations. Young and old alike gained knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture and wisdom through these educational programs.
Since its inception at the Lake Ontario Bird Festival in 2006, people have attended the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival from as far away as Binghamton, New York City, and the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, and from as close as the Oneida and Onondaga Nations, and Syracuse, plus many local visitors from Mexico and Oswego County.
Our festival goers have been as young as six months old and as old as 91.
Whole church groups have shown up and lots of families, who bring their children, pack a picnic lunch and stay for the entire day. Although still in its infancy, the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival continues to generate over $5000 in direct economic impact each year.
Visitors have commented yearly on the talent, quality, and diversity of performers and presenters, the collaborative partnerships that have been built, the beauty of Mexico, NY, and, most importantly, the message of strengthening our spirit and creating unity by celebrating our diversity that this festival and its advisory members are committed to promoting.
One gentleman from the Mohawk Nation said,
“It is such a pleasure to see more people bringing Native American Culture, Spirituality, and Music to this area.”
We intentionally hold the Native Circle on Memorial Day weekend because Memorial Day was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War and Mexico NY was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad. Mexico NY is located almost in the center of the Iroquois Confederation whose legacy is in learning how to stand together.
Foremost is to honor all who have died in service to this country, which we do both at the opening and closing of the festival. The Thunder Hawk Singers sing their Mi’kmaq Honor Song at the start of the festival. We close each day of the festival with Laura K. Vannah’s signature song, Cherokee Amazing Grace, and invite all the performers, presenters, and attendees to join her.
“When I looked out at the crowd gathered for this powerful closing song, saw the community that was gathered in front of the stage, the hearts that were opened, and people singing along, tears sprang to my eyes,” said Ms. Vannah after the 2010 festival.