Concert to celebrate indigenous music, arts after Native Heritage Month

November was Native Heritage Month, as the Central New York community remembered the struggles and contributions of indigenous peoples. To continue that effort, a group of Syracuse University students have organized an inclusive music and arts event.

SU junior Nic Misita will host the concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Westcott area’s Vineyard Church, 718 S. Beech St., in collaboration with SU’s Native Student Program. Headlining the show is indie solo artist The 118, with support from rock band Elemantra. Tickets are $5 at the door or at

The 118 is the solo rock project from James Dean Gardener, an alumnus of SU’s Bandier Program for music business. Hailing from Buffalo, Gardener is 100 percent Seneca Native American, born to a Wolf Clan father and a Turtle Clan mother, 20 Watts magazine reported. Gardener founded The 118 in September, experimenting with a combination of genres including alternative and indie rock. Saturday’s show will mark his Central New York debut.

Elemantra is a Salamanca-based band that calls its sound “dreamy alternative rock’n’roll.” The four-piece draws inspiration from Modest Mouse, Sunny Day Real Estate and Built to Spill. They recently dropped a music video for their track “Roll Up the Window”  from their August release To Know Better.

The event will also feature artwork from Jo-Anna Jacobs. She works in Haudenosaunee beadwork and spiritual fashion, bridging the concepts of both modern and traditional indigenous art.

Misita, the show’s organizer and promoter, developed the concept after participating in an anthropology class that focused on the misrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the media. After meeting Nathan Abrams, a student in the Native Student Program, the pair transformed Misita’s idea into this weekend’s show.

“The event is geared toward bringing together the music and arts community to acknowledge and engage with the creative works of former and current indigenous students of Syracuse University as well as individuals of the greater area,” said Misita. He plans to continue developing similar events in Central New York until his graduation in 2020.

“This is just the first step of trying to become more inclusive and committed to raising the representation and sovereignty of indigenous creatives and their allies,” said Misita. “I hope this event inspires other members of the community to become engaged in our music scene and support the arts.”

Alexa Piwowarski is a graduate student with the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

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