BROADALBIN - The drums pulsated steadily as dancers sang and circled the burning white sage at Saturday's third annual Spirit of the Wolf Native American Festival at Pine Park.
"It's a prayer, really. It's getting closer to Mother Earth with every beat of the drum," said Rosalynne White of Perth, one of the participants.
Dancers, drummers and spectators gather from near and far to celebrate Native American culture, perform traditional rituals, showcase their crafts and most importantly, respect their heritage.
Ed Medler of West Nyack, Rockland County, performs a dance in colorful Native American clothing during the Spirit of the Wolf Native American Festival on Saturday at Pine Park in Broadalbin. The event continues today. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan )
Betty Overrocker, also known as Chief Little Fox of the Wolf Clan, said the two-day event serves as a way for the inter-tribal groups to teach children the significance of the Native American culture and to have them carry on the tradition.
"It's people of all races involved, not just native," Overrocker said. "We invite everybody so that they can learn and we can all live in harmony."
She and staff member John Hill were pleased with the turnout of about 100 people, noting the parking lot had been full all day. She said everyone in attendance was enamored with the culture on display.
Charlie Heavner and scouting group Venture Crew 13 are dedicated to the Native American lifestyle, and Heavner explained the group attends several powwows throughout the Northeast, attending the Broadalbin festival for the first time Saturday.
"The Boy Scouts have a history with Native American lore," Heavner said. "It's something that the adults were always interested in."
Fifteen troop members were present to join the dancing, and Heavner said they were already planning to attend the event again next year.
"We didn't commit to the whole weekend [this time], because we didn't know what to expect," he said. "Some powwows run a little differently than others. Sometimes you have to be Native American to be a dancer, but we don't claim to be native. We're hobbyists."
All the proceeds raised at the Wolf festival have gone to charity all three years, with this year's recipient being the Mountain Valley Community Church of Johnstown.
The dancers later honored all veterans, emergency responders and fallen heroes.
"Everybody's welcome to come in and dance and participate to honor them. And we welcome everybody to come to do that. That's what it's all about - the honor dance," Overrocker said. " ... And it's important for the community, and especially children, to learn about the animals and respect."
"Being native is total respect, respect for everything. The main thing is respect, and that's what we like to show everybody."
The festival will continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission costs $5 for adults; children younger than 12 will be admitted free.