It was about 3 p.m., and everyone and everything seemed to be melting simultaneously at the 36th Annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow in Queens, New York. Children cared little for play, and parents, armed with umbrellas and water and blankets for the ground, looked defeated by the sweltering heat.
At the other end of the dirt-grass pow wow grounds kneeled a woman by a semi-naked tree. She was in the middle of a weaving demonstration – stitching, thread-by-thread, periodically yanking like crazy on the threads connected to a rope lassoed to the trunk. A small crowd had gathered around her, stealing the spotlight from the bopping dancers, each on the brink of heatstroke. The woman, Miriam Gomez, is Mayan and traveled to Queens from Guatemala with her husband, Erickson, and son, Erickson Jr., to sell their ware, which included clothing, beadwork and little Mayan trinkets patrons would poke and massage with their greasy sunblock fingers.
Erikson holding his first ever, fully-beaded vest. (Cliff Matias)
“She’s making aguipi,” Erikson said. “It’s a Mayan blouse. This one will take five to six months to complete.”
Just on the other side of the tree, Erikson Jr. was busy winding yarn around a lock of a woman’s hair. “Hair wrapping” Erikson called it. Other women had congregated near Erikson Jr., pretending to shop at nearby vendors, so as to jump at the chance of being next.Erickson, portly and with a pleasant disposition, explained that he and his family travel to the U.S. every year on visa about this time to sell their work at pow wows; then it’s back to Guatemala until the next pow wow season. They’ll travel all over the east coast before it’s time to return home again where they continue in their trade, named Mayan Weaving…..Read More