Native American Dancers Perform April 30 at Stafford Library

Apr 21, 2014

The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers present traditional music, stories and dances of various Native American cultures on Wednesday, April 30, at 4 p.m., at the Stafford branch of the Ocean County Library. Dressed in full-feathered and beaded regalia, New York’s oldest American Indian dance company will highlight native peoples of the Northwest Coast, Southwest, the Plains and Arctic regions.

The group was established 50 years ago, and the group’s leader, Louis Mofsie, is a founding member. His father is a descendant of the Hopi tribe in Arizona while his mother was from the Winnebago tribe in Nebraska.

“I grew up in Brooklyn,” said Mofsie, 77. “But my parents were born on reservations.”

Besides his native tribes, Mofsie said there would also be dances and music from the Iroquois, Cherokee and Kiowa.

“Some of these dances go back hundreds of years,” he said. “But in our program, we stress that Native American culture is still very much alive, and our group’s aim is to preserve and perpetuate that culture. Our teachers have been our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and cousins.”

While the Thunderbird group performs primarily in the New York area, they have appeared in various venues in other states and have toured in Japan, Israel and Canada.

“I think my major accomplishment in life has been to feel proud of my Native American heritage, and to be able to share what I have learned with both native and non-native people,” said Mofsie. “Since I had been a classroom teacher for 35 years, my emphasis has been on education and helping people get a better understanding of the richness and beauty of Native people through music and dance.”

The group also holds various workshops and has a scholarship fund for Native American students.

For more information and to register, call the branch at 609-597-3381. —E.E.

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