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'Smokin' Joe' Opens New Native Center

By Frank Parlato

New native center: 333 First St.

JA native journey is performed.

Opening night video show.

Native program launches new store.

Native program launches new store.

Souvenir store now open for business.

Tuscarora businessman Joseph 'Smokin' Joe' Anderson has opened his newest downtown venture, 'Smokin' Joe's Native Center,' at 333 First St. in Niagara Falls.

The center, which occupies what was the old Tele-tech offices, is for the most part a large souvenir store with a curtained off area which seats about 500 and an elevated stage at the back.

The Native Center will apparently offer regular native dance performances, cultural acts and entertainment. The initial show featured a dance, drum and wailing called, "A Native Journey into the Spirit of the Mist" performed by the Native Spirit Dancers.

For those who could understand the mysticism of it, it was perhaps a moving performance. The costumed dancers were spectacular in their vivid colors but somehow the wailing of the singer sounded so shrill to my uninitiated ears that it was, at times, repugnant. I wondered if it was a war cry meant to horrify the listener into surrendering just to get the singer to stop his performance.

In any event, there may be much more to the performance than what met the ear and one is inclined to suggest the casual visitor or tourists make a trip there anyway to check it out.

But don't bring your camera.

On a second visit to the Native America Center, one of the managers there told me that people are not allowed to take pictures inside the place.

I thought this odd and asked if that meant only the media, or more particularly, the Niagara Falls Reporter.

He said he had been instructed that no one may take pictures inside the Native Center.

Fortunately, I had already taken a slew of pictures before I was informed of the no-photo rule.

Still, one wonders how a place that functions as a  souvenir store, but lures people to come in thinking it is a Native American center, with various visually exciting exhibits and performances, can hope to please when tourists are barred from taking photographs.

When the manager was asked the reason for the prohibition, he said, "I don't know. It is just what I was told."



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 21, 2013