Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Topics for Blog! Moundville's Native American Festival

I have decided to redo parts of my blog. I am getting rid of the craft and recipe section—but, keeping a "Make Things" so they are all a big section. Taking it's place is the section called Events. I will be doing Alabama and other events that go along with my blog or that I deem interesting. If you have any you want me to write about please let me know.

My first event is an event I attended last year, but am not able to attend this year because of family emergencies and personal setbacks. I enjoyed this event a lot when I attended and I think it is a learning event as well as entertainment. Go all the way to Tuscaloosa to enjoy Moundville's Native American Festival.

The 320-acre park, containing more than 20 mounds built by a community of Native Americans of the Mississippian culture, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The site is believed to have been America's largest city north of Mexico 800 years ago. It's an event that has been held for over 20 years. The festival, first held in 1989, began with the mission of teaching schoolchildren about Southeast Native American culture. The festival director says that over the years they have taught over 100,000 people about arts, crafts, and lifeways of the Southeastern Indians. Many of the Native Americans look forward to this event because for many of them it is a homecoming event.

There are many live entertainment specials to pick from such as The Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe, the Bogue Houma Choctaw Dancers, the Mystic Wind Choctaw Dancers and Lyndon Alec that will demonstrate traditional dances. Injunuity, a Native American Music flue-guitar duo from Oklahoma, will be there with its mix of traditional and modern styles. Other performers are singer-songwriter Michael Jacobs and flutists Billy Whitefox, Sydney Mitchell, Jimmy Yellowhorse and Charlie Mato-Toyela. On Saturday, the Mystic Wind Stickball Players of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will demonstrate the sport of stickball. Last but not final is Gayle Ross will tell Cherokee stories throughout the week. Ross, a frequent performer at storytelling and folk festivals across the country, is the direct descendant of John Ross, chief of the Cherokee Nation during and after the Trail of Tears. (These are just to name a few.)

The festival has many different things that are for all ages. It's a way to expose people to more culture and for them to realize that there was a time when you could live with the land. They accomplish this by having such stations as living history, arts and craft arbors, target rang, children's area, Knapper's corner, arts market and trader's circle, food courts, and park explorations.

Living history part of the festival is where people can really learn what life was about back then. The past can come to life through sights, sounds, and smells. All kinds of characters, dressed in period clothing, are camped out and wander throughout the park to show what life was like back in the 1400s through early 1800s. In the arts and crafts arbors the Native Americans and other experts show how they created pottery, basketry, beadwork, ancient tools and weapons, silversmithing, fingerweaving, and a lot more. They encourage people to ask question because they want to show how things were done back then without what we call technology. Storytelling and corn husk doll making are available.

Target Range is very cool you can watch the experts throw spears, shoot blowguns, and practice archery skills that they have. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to to watch them competing. They will let some participants actually throw spears and rabbit sticks. They will always have displays of ancient tools, weapons, and hunting and fishing equipment around them. Knapper's Corner is where flintknappers shape arrow and spear points, knives and other tools from stone. They sell their work and are always willing to share their knowledge. Bow maker and blacksmiths can also be found in this area.

Children's area was probably my favorite because the kids get to make shell necklaces, play Indian games, get their face painted, dress up in historic clothing, make headbands and learn how clothing was made from trees. Arts market and trader circle is where fine artists exhibit and sell sculpture, pottery, gourds, baskets, textiles, carvings, flutes, paintings, and prints. Reproductions of handcrafted clothing, jewelry, books, tapes, and many more souvenirs for every pocketbook that comes. Also in the newly renovated museum don't forget the Knotted Bird gifts for more shopping.

In the food courts there will be a wide variety of delicious Indian foods at the main food court. Traditional festival concessions are also available. Near the river is even more food. As far as exploring the park going to the Chieftain's Mound there are experts that will tell you all about the new discoverings happening at Moundville. Or taking a leisure stroll down the boardwalk nature trails. Plus the excavation behind Jones Museum is another thing not to be missed.

The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Moundville Archaeological Park, located 13 miles south of the University of Alabama campus on Alabama Highway 69. Admission to the festival is $10 for adults, $8 for students and free for children ages 5 and younger. Call 205-371-8732 for more information on discounts with group reservations.

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