Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration


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In November, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the USA…a time to gather with family and give thanks for all of our blessings. But it is also an observance of the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans and Pilgrims feasted together after the Native Americans helped the new settlers survive their first difficult year.


For Native American Heritage Month, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park hosted a celebration, with performances by the Silver Cloud Dancers and a tour of the Lenape exhibit at the Paterson Museum. You can see my earlier post on Paterson Great Falls by clicking here.


The Lenape Nation, called Lenapehoking, included Paterson (and all of New Jersey, parts of New York, PA and Delaware), but the Lenape did not live around the falls. They did fish here in the Passaic River.


The Silver Cloud Dancers are an inter-tribal group, with singers, drummers and dancers. They performed both traditional and contemporary dances, while providing insight into the history of the pieces.


I attended the morning show and the timing was just right for the sun to create a rainbow in the mist under the bridge, serving as a spectacular backdrop.


The dancers performed a traditional men’s dance, traditional women’s dance and then the more contemporary, ‘fancier’ versions of each.


One of the vocalists led a singalong, teaching us the words to a simple song.


Here is a short video of the traditional men’s dance. This is a warrior’s victory dance.

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018


23 thoughts on “Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration

  1. Beautiful photos and a great post. Love the dancers costumes. We have seen many in our area and also some in Ottawa on our travels. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Allan

      1. The most beautiful example I have seen was a collaboration between our world renowned Shumka Ukrainian dancers and our equally world renowned Rolling Thunder round dancers. We were in the front row of the concert hall and the colours and movements as well as the skills of the dancers were mesmerizing (especially the hoop dancers). So nice when cultures can get along. Happy Thanksgiving Day. A

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  3. Great stuff, enjoyed both this post and your earlier one on Paterson Great Falls. We never came across this place when we visited Pennsylvania (though maybe the “scary neighborhood” that you mention in your earlier post has something to do with that!) I’m new to your blog, but it seems like you’re doing a good job in highlighting some of the lesser-known ‘public’ sites in the USA. Incidentally, as a Brit I’ve never heard of Native American Heritage Month, but if this post is typical it must be a wild four weeks.

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Paterson is actually in New Jersey (one state over from PA) but, no, I don’t imagine it is a desirable destination for someone on holiday from the UK 🙂 This was actually the first celebration I’d been to for Native American heritage month as I hadn’t seen any advertised before.

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