The third annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, a celebration of Native American music, arts, and culture will feature Theresa “Bear” Fox, Mohawk (Wolf Clan), and Kontiwennenhawi, the Akwasasne Women Singers, Saturday, August 6, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., returns to the waterfront of Unity Park, 1st St. in Turners Falls, MA. Bear Fox is a three-time Native American Music Awards (NAMMY) winner: Best Debut Artist, 2014; Best Traditional (with Kontiwennahawi), 2015; Songwriter of the Year, 2016.
The group was founded in 1999 driven by the need to protect and preserve the Kanienkeha (Mohawk language), as well as the traditional Mohawk customs and stories, including oral traditions that are passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. It was founded on the belief that the easiest waynto pass on the language and culture is through songs. “In the beginning, I began writing in Kanienkeha (the Mohawk Language) for our women’s group, called Kontiwennenhawi, which translates to ‘Carriers of the Words’. Our language is struggling to survive right now, so it is important to me to put our language into the songs. Many children in the local schools are beginning to sing our songs. I have been writing songs for almost 20 years now, and it makes me very proud to know that in a small way, our women’s group and I are contributing to the survival of our language.”
At various stages of their lives, the singers take time out of their personal and professional lives to assist their community whenever possible. Aside from singing Haudenosaunee social songs, they work with elders and fluent speakers from Akwasasne to ensure the correct usage, pronunciation and spelling of words. The songs contain messages that they believe are important for the Mohawk people to know and remember, songs that honor the Elders, the Teachers, “Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Thunder”. They are committed to continuing the traditions of their ancestors and preserving their language and customs through their songs. Performances of Kontiwennenhawi will be at 1:15 pm and 5:45 p.m. Other musicians will be “wave artist” Mixahawn, the Medicine Mammals Singers, the Black Hawk Singers and Native American flute player George Leduc.