The Museum of the Cherokee Indian celebrates thousands of years of southeastern American Indian traditions at its seventh annual Southeast Tribes Festival, Sept. 14- 15 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.
This year’s event includes traditional dancing, storytelling, arts demonstrations, ancient sports and living history of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole peoples. Special guests include War Chief Ostenaco and Lt. Henry Timberlake and the celebrated Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums.
“The festival is a unique opportunity for tribes to continue discovering their history and traditions and really celebrate who they are. There’s no other event like it in the Southeast, so visitors will have a truly special experience,” said Barbara Duncan, Education Director at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the festival coordinator. “This year, visitors will see traditional dances like the Cherokee War Dance and the Choctaw “Stealing Partners” dance, stickball games, which can make American football look placid, and arts demonstrations by true masters of tribal traditions.”
Traditional arts demonstrations include river cane basketmaking, stone carving, weaving, pottery and more. Prizes will be awarded in the art show, and artisans will be selling their crafts. Authenticity of tribal arts is maintained as only artisans whose work has been juried and who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes have been invited to participate.
Demonstrations of the tribes’ ancient sports include Choctaw stickball, Cherokee stickball, an intertribal blowgun contest and a Cherokee marbles tournament. Cherokee marbles use billiard ball-sized marbles and is played similarly to rolley hole marbles. No one really knows the origins of the game, and speculation abounds about how the ancient Cherokee crafted perfectly round, smooth marbles from stone. A 5k Fun Run is open to the public on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at Kituhwa Field.
Special guests at this year’s event include War Chief Ostenaco and Lt. Henry Timberlake, who will join the festivities from 1762. Festival attendees may meet them in person and hear about their journeys 250 years ago as Emissaries of Peace. They bring to life the Emissaries of Peace exhibit now on display at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Colonial Williamsburg trades people will demonstrate colonial lifeways, including silversmithing, barrel making, tailoring, and more. Twenty five historical interpreters from Colonial Williamsburg include the celebrated Williamsburg Fifes and Drums.
Adults admission $7 for the day; children $3 for ages 6-13; ages 5 and under free. Special rates are available for school groups. More information at Southeast Tribes Festival is available at www.cherokeemuseum.org or 497-3481.
The seventh annual Southeast Tribes Festival is sponsored by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee Preservation Foundation and North Carolina Arts Council.
– Museum of the Cherokee Indian