Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties Inc. is excited to be kicking off Native American Heritage Month with its annual Native American Heritage Celebration and Marketplace on Saturday, Nov. 3, at its office, 1005 Grant St., Buffalo.
The event features a marketplace of local Native American vendors with hand-crafted and other items for sale. As NACS' Executive Director Michael Martin explained, the event started for the first time last year to provide an opportunity for the Western New York community to buy some wonderful items from local native vendors in advance of the holiday shopping season.
"We've seen other cities across North America take pride in the rich, local Native American heritage of their areas and support marketplaces such as this one," he said. "I'm confident we'll build off last year's success, as we are adding more attractive features to the day that should make this year's event more fun and educational for the whole family."
Some of those new features include cultural presentations on the hour, including a discussion of the impact of the War of 1812 on the Six Nations; a flute demonstration, as well as storytelling and other presentations by members of NACS' new Council of Elders. The day will conclude with a free potluck dinner and traditional social dance open to all to come learn about and participate in some of the local Haudenosaunee social dances.
A highlight of the program will be a press conference at 5 p.m. to publicly release a new Native American community profile and needs assessment, which NACS has completed with community input and in partnership with Buffalo State College's Center for Health and Social Research. It helps to identify and indicate the needs of the local Native American community that NACS serves.
"Given the lack of representation of native populations in available data sets, especially at the local level, it was absolutely critical to embark on this process to better understand and respond to the needs of our people," Martin said.
The new profile and needs assessment was funded by The John R. Oishei Foundation.
As with last year's event, a wellness and community resource fair will accompany the marketplace. Earlier in the day, various native foods will also be available for purchase, and NACS' youth program will hold a bake sale.
The free event is supported by the Peace Givers group, a local Native American charitable group supporting Native American people and causes. It features:
•Native American marketplace, with local native vendors selling hand-crafted and other items
•Wellness and community resource fair
•Native cultural presentations
•Public release of NACS' community profile and needs assessment
•Traditional Haudenosaunee social dance
•Door prizes, raffles and guest speakers
Since 1975, Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties has focused on serving the needs of the off-reservation Native American population in Erie and Niagara counties. However, NACS has been and continues to be a key human service provider to all facets of the Buffalo-Niagara community. NACS offers a variety of services under four components: community support services, economic self-sufficiency, family services, and health and wellness. NACS' aim is to strengthen families and build community in a "Tradition of Caring." For more information on NACS, visit www.nacswny.org.