A Native American and Multicultural Celebration
In September 2002, with a generous grant from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Kamala Cesar, Executive/Artistic Director of Lotus Music and Dance and Producer Carl Nelson created Drums Along the Hudson®: A Native American and Multicultural Celebration. It began as a traditional Pow Wow to celebrate Native American heritage and culture, and also to commemorate the Lenape people who first inhabited Inwood Hill Park, or Shorakapok ("edge of the water"). This event first took place annually in the spring, thereafter we added something new and different each year to make the event more exciting and enjoyable -- including a Shad tasting, a White Pine tree planting (the Iroquois symbol of peace), international foods, drummers and dancers and a Native American Arts in Education Initiative. The event has attracted attendees from 400 in the first year to over 8,000 in recent years.
In 2009, we established an Environmental Tent where attendees can learn more about practical ways to implement "green" living. Participating organizations have included the Audubon Society, Clean Air NY, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Hudsonia, the Council on the Environment of NYC and the Captain Planet Foundation with appearances by Captain Planet. This year we will have a free bicycle valet where attendees who ride their bikes to the park can have a valet park their bikes for them.
Drums Along the Hudson 2023
The 21st Annual DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON®: A Native American Festival and Multicultural Celebration will take place on Sunday, June 4th, 2023 in Upper Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm, Rain or Shine. This event is free to the public and is presented by Lotus Music & Dance in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, sponsored in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council.
Our honorees this year will be Loida Nicolas Lewis, philanthropist/author and George Faison, Tony-Award winning choreographer/dancer. The host for the event will be Sandra Bookman, weekend anchor for WABC-TV and host of "Here and Now” and the afternoon co-host will be Patrick Riley, Pop Culture Expert/ Blogger.
DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON® features an open air pow wow, which is a celebratory gathering of Native American people that will be led by Louis Mofsie and the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers with Host Drums Heyna Second Sons. Mohawk Elder, Tom Porter, will give the opening Thanksgiving Address and ceremonial Tree of Peace Planting. This multicultural family-oriented festival combines Native American heritage with the diversity of New York City with performances of world dance and drumming tradition, featuring Kalpulli Huehuetlatolli Aztec Dancers and Drummers, Sri Lankan Dancers and Drummers, COBU All Female Japanese Taiko Drummers, Project Convergence: Tap and Bharata Natyam Dance, Fusha Dance Company and more. Activities also include Native American crafts, storytelling and international cuisine. In keeping with the underlying theme of environmental awareness and education, DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON® will invite organizations such as The Coalition for Healthy School Food, Shumei Natural Agriculture, Trinity Church Environmental Justice Group, Practice in Balance Spa and others to participate.
Loida Nicolas Lewis
Loida Nicolas Lewis, Philanthropist/Author, was born and raised in Sorsogon, Philippines, the daughter of Francisco Nicolas and Magdalena Mañalac. She earned her B.A. in Humanities from St. Theresa's College Manila, and her Bachelor of Laws (LL. B.) from the University of the Philippines - Diliman. She placed 7th in the bar exams conducted in 1968.
Loida Lewis is Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm, and Chair of The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation. A lawyer by profession, she is admitted to practice in the Philippines and New York, being the first Filipino and Asian American woman to pass the New York bar without having studied law in the United States. After serving 10 years as General Attorney in the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (currently U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services), and having won her discrimination case against INS in 1979, Mrs. Lewis co-authored the best-selling guidebook for immigrants, “How to Get A Green Card”, now on its 14th edition. Mrs. Lewis loves giving back to the community, but the role she loves most is that of being "Grandma" to her five grandchildren.
George W. Faison
George W. Faison, DFA, University of Massachusetts and award winning, internationally celebrated producer, writer, essayist, composer, director, choreographer and dancer, made history in 1975 when he became the first African American to win a Tony Award of best choreography for The Wiz! Dr. Faison began his career as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His Broadway career began with the musical Purlie. After leaving the Ailey Company, he formed his own company, the George Faison Universal Dance Experience and went on to create several American dance classics of his own: Slaves, Suite Otis, Gazelle, and Poppie. He has also choreographed and staged concerts for musical greats including Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie Mills and many more. Dr. Faison has directed regional productions at the McCarter Theater, Princeton NJ, Center Stage in Baltimore, the Kennedy Center, the Pittsburg Public and the Public Theater in NY. Dr. Faison is also the author of several musicals: Apollo, It Was Just Like Magic which starred Morgan Freeman, Clarice Taylor and S. Epatha Merkerson, Sing Mahalia Sing with Jennifer Holiday; If This Hat Could Talk, based on the life of Dorothy I. Height and most recently, Bah Humbug From the Notorious E.B. Scrooge based on A Christmas Carol. His Film credits include Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Cotton Club, Driving Me Crazy, and the Josephine Baker Story. (READ MORE!)
Past Honorees of Drums Along the Hudson
Past Honorees of Drums Along the Hudson have included US Poet Laureate, writer and musician Joy Harjo, US Congressman and Civil Rights Leader John Lewis, 106th Mayor of New York City David Dinkins, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Director of the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Louis Mofsie, NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Environmentalist Laura Turner Seidel, and Elizabeth Sackler, the founder of the American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation.