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  • Day One: Top Ten Photos

    This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival started in the Rasmuson Theater at the National Museum of the American Indian, whose twentieth anniversary is the focus of the Indigenous Voices of the Americas program. Beginning with an opening blessing by Smithsonian curator Halena Kapuni-Reynolds in the Native Hawaiian language, the Welcome Ceremony continued with remarks from representatives of the institution, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

    “Every day that we celebrate, every day that we dance and sing and pray, we strengthen the bonds that assimilation policies fought to break among Native people,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), the first Indigenous Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

    Later in the day, the museum hosted storytelling sessions, a musical performance from Smithsonian Folkways artists Sons of Membertou, and our first featured concert with Hālau o Kekuhi from Hawai‘i. Despite high temperatures, enthusiastic crowds gathered on the National Mall for artist demonstrations, music, and discussions with members of Indigenous communities across the Americas.  

    Check back here every day as we share favorite Festival moments, captured by our intrepid photo team.

    Day Two →

    Three members of the Native American Women Warriors holding up flags. In front of them, the ring of the National Native American Veterans Memorial is on fire.
    After the Welcome Ceremony, the Native American Women Warriors led a presentation of the colors at the National Native American Veterans Memorial. The association will offer this ceremonial presentation of the flags and an honor song every morning at 11 a.m.
    Photo by Sonya Pencheva, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A woman in a red dress holds the hands of another woman wearing a white dress who is riding a skateboard.
    Secretary Deb Haaland was among the first visitors to join Imilla Skate’s workshop.
    Photo by Sonya Pencheva, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A woman wearing a pink blouse and embroidered hat sits at a loom with colorful fibers.
    Eva Molina displayed her skills at the Quechua Weaving tent. She is participating with the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, an organization that preserves traditional weaving techniques in Peru.
    Photo by James Dacey, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A woman wearing beaded earrings and a blue apron stands behind a counter with a yellow tablecloth and jars of ingredients on it.
    The Foodways kitchen kicked off with a pot of Three Sisters Soup, prepared by chef Elena Terry (Ho-Chunk Nation/Prairie Band Potawatomi).
    Photo by Mark S. Roth, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Two shirtless men sitting in the grass, while one paints black lines around the arms of the other.
    Wauto Am Oro Waram and Tambura Amondawa of the Associação do Povo Indígena Amondawa decorated their arms in traditional body art styles from the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Land in Brazil.
    Photo by Julie Byrne, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A man wearing blue and pink regalia dancing on a platform.
    Angelo Begay (Navajo) of Native Pride Productions performed a chicken dance at the group’s powwow dance on the Four Directions Stage. Chicken dancing is a style of Indigenous dance taught to men characterized by movements that imitate a strutting rooster.
    Photo by Mark S. Roth, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A child wearing a bird-like wooden headpiece holding a stick with a wooden fish on it.
    A tiny member of the Git Hoan Dancers performed in the museum’s Potomac Atrium. The group hails from Metlakatla, Alaska.
    Photo by Phillip R. Lee, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Two women wearing patterned regalia dancing while holding feathered fans.
    Two members of the Nuna Dancers (Yup’ik, Siberian Yupik, Iñupiaq, and Tlingit) performed in the Potomac Atrium.
    Photo by Josh Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A man with black and red face paint wearing a headdress made of leaves speaks into a microphone.
    At the Narrative Stage, Valdiran Ferreira Santos (Pataxó) discussed body art and adornment as cultural resurgence along with Antonia Gonsalves da Silva (Povo Pataxó) and Yaari Walker (Yup’ik).
    Photo by Stanley Turk, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    A person wearing Hawaiian hula regalia holding out their hands in dance.
    Hālau o Kekuhi presented the afternoon’s feature concert, with Hawaiian hula and chant. The group, now led by Kumu Hula Nālani Kanakaʻole, first participated in the Folklife Festival in 1989.
    Photo by Stephen L. Kolb, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

    Tomorrow, Thursday June 27, play lacrosse with the Haudenosaunee Nationals athletes, learn how to grill yellowtail snapper at the Foodways kitchen, join a discussion about the hundredth anniversary of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, and more. All events are posted in the full schedule.

    Day Two →

    Molly Szymanski is a media intern with the 2024 Folklife Festival. They are from Baltimore and currently live in College Park, Maryland. Elisa Hough is the editor and web content manager for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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