July 24, 2014- BY CORI URBAN, The Republican
Two upcoming events will be drumming up interest in the Turners Falls section of Montague.
Turners Falls will host a celebration of its parks, people, history and culture on Saturday, Aug. 2.
The event is a coordinated effort of The Nolumbeka Project, organizers of the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, and RiverCulture, sponsors of the Turners Falls Block Party.
“This is the first time The Nolumbeka Project and Turners Falls RiverCulture are working on an event (together), and we are pulling out all the stops,” said Suzanne K. LoManto, director of Turners Falls RiverCulture. “We are so excited about this partnership. Both our missions is to promote culture.”
The Pocumtuck Homelands Festival will be take place at Unity Park along the Connecticut River and feature Native American music by Hawk Henries on flute, the Medicine Mammals Singers, Urban Thunder Singers and The Visioning B.E.A.R. Singers.
Traditional handwork from more than 20 vendors will be available for sale and include bark baskets, drums, quill applique, leatherwork, pottery and textiles.There will be storytelling, crafts for children (a $2 fee) a tipi and a wigwam.
The event will take place from noon to -8 p.m.
According to Diane E. Dix, vice president of The Nolumbeka Project, the site on which the festival will take place is significant because it was in this area that native people from throughout the Northeast used to come to fish near the “Great Falls.”
It was a “special place” where native people gathered and learned from one another and intermarried, she said.
It was also the place where in 1676 Captain William Turner and his men massacred about 300 Native American women, children and elders. The place “has that terrible scar on it,” she said.
A healing ceremony took place at Unity Park 10 years ago.
“We feel so blessed to be given the opportunity by RiverCulture to bring the good energy back, the life back to this particular site,” Dix said.
She expects representatives of various tribes that once gathered at the Great Falls—Mohawk, Iroquois and Abenaki for example—to participate in the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, named for the Native Americans that hosted the fishing gatherings.
The Nolumbeka Project is dedicated to the preservation of regional Native American history through educational programs, art, history, music, heritage seed preservation and cultural events. Visit www.nolumbekaproject.org for more information and an entertainment schedule.
The Block Party, on Avenue A between Third and Fourth streets, will feature festival food, the work of more than 20 craft vendors, a New Orleans-style parade at 3 p.m. and live music at Spinner Park. More than a dozen classic cars from the 1950’s-1980’s will be parked at the Shady Glen diner, weather permitting.
The Block Party will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. All Block Party festivities are free and handicap accessible.
“There is a lot of competition for places to go over the summer, so we are creating one of the most exciting, fun, educational events to really show Turners Falls for what it is, a positive, energetic community,” LoManto said. RiverCulture operates on the belief that experiencing art and culture significantly enhances quality of life and is a vital component to a healthy community. Visit riverculture.org for more information and performance updates.
For more information, call (413) 835-1390 or (413) 773-9818.