The sounds of drum beats, American Indians dancing in colorful, elaborate costumes, and the aroma of traditional foods greeted visitors to the Shinnecock Powwow in Southampton Saturday.
Alissa Smith, 33, and her mother, Wendy Gottlieb, 60, who live in Southampton, said going to the village's annual Shinnecock Powwow has become one of their favorite things to do.
"We usually come here every year," Smith said as they walked back to their car after spending hours at the event. The pair carried bags loaded with a variety of purchases, including blankets, arrows, a necklace and a picture made of feathers.
"This is the grand prize of the year," said Don Williams Sr., who was born on the Shinnecock reservation 85 years ago. "There are many holidays in a year but this event is what brings all of our people together to share our culture."
The powwow brings together dozens of American Indian tribes from South Dakota and Maine to the Carolinas to celebrate their heritage. Sioux, Cherokee, Seminole, Iroquois and Mohawks are among the visiting tribes participating.
"It's a whole history and culture for us that's represented," said Judith Trotman, administrative assistant for the Shinnecock Council of Trustees, who also lives on the reservation. "It's part of our tradition. It's a very powerful time for our people. People who come here are walking on sacred ground."
Arthur Swann, 75, was there with a friend, Pamela DeLongoria, who gave her age only as "over 70." The Queens residents said the powwow has something for every age. Though DeLongoria has been many times, Swann said this was his first time at the event.
"She has a friend who's a member of the Shinnecock Nation," Swann said. "I found coming here a very educational experience. It gave us an overview of what the Shinnecock Nation is about. Their unity is very interesting."
The powwow is held until 11 p.m. today and continues through Monday. The 900-acre reservation, at 1 W. Church St., opens to the public at 10 a.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for seniors, children ages 6-12 and the disabled; children younger than 5 are free.