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THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 2007
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Dancing starts at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the American Indian Festival.
Courtesy photo
Dancing starts at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the American Indian Festival.

POWWOW
all night long

American Indian Festival to benefit food pantry

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

This Friday and Saturday, learn what it feels like to throw tomahawks, pan for gold and build fires using flint and steel. As the sun descends on the horizon, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of an Oklahoma-style powwow that will likely go all night.

The public is invited to attend the first benefit American Indian Festival at the Cherokee River Indian Community in Bankhead Forest. The free event will benefit the Hawks in the Wind Food Pantry and will include yard sales, workshops, dancing, food and vendors selling mostly native crafts.

American Indians from across the Southeast will attend the event and share their craft and dance skills.

“It should be really interesting,” said arena director Cecil Brill. “We’re anticipating a lot of people. ... They’ve never done this (type of powwow) in this part of the country before.”

An Oklahoma-style powwow differs from an Eastern-style powwow in that it begins in the evening and often goes late into the night, he said.

“If they want to see how it’s done in the West, this would be the one to come to,” said organizer Klieta Bagwell. Multiple singing groups or “drums” are coming in from Oklahoma, New York and Florida for the event.

Workshops on everything from scrapbooking to dream-catcher making will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Some workshops may require a $5 or less materials fee. A yard sale will take place both days from 7 a.m. to noon.

Educational event

The event is a great educational outing for the whole family.

“It’s a beautiful way for them to learn,” Brill said. “Anything you want to ask them, they’ll be willing to tell you.”

Many people “really don’t understand” American Indian culture, Bagwell said.

“They are often fascinated,” she said. “But sometimes they can offend, because natives really live their culture ... People want to come up and touch their clothes or earrings, and some of those things are sacred and passed down through generations.”

Along with learning about a different culture, powwows are fun for everyone.

“I’ve never seen anybody go away not having a good time,” she said.

Primitive camping

Primitive camping at the Cherokee River Indian Community site is free to the public.

Attendees are asked to bring new or gently used toys or jackets and canned or non-perishable food items to benefit Hawks in the Wind Food Pantry.

The nonprofit organization makes several trips each year to distribute items to needy American Indian communities in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and South Dakota.

If you go

Who: Cherokee River Indian Community

What: American Indian Festival to benefit Hawks in the Wind Food Pantry

Where: Bankhead Forest, off Alabama 33 near Moulton

When: Friday and Saturday

Admission is free, though donations for the Hawks in the Wind Food Pantry are appreciated. Please bring new or gently used toys or jackets and canned or non-perishable food items.

Workshops will be both days from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some require a $5 or less materials fee.

Dancing will start at 6 p.m. each night.

Directions: From Decatur, take Alabama 24 toward Moulton. Cross Alabama 157, and turn left onto Alabama 33. Go 15 miles past the courthouse and turn left at the Cherokee River Indian Community Sign. Go three miles down a gravel road to reach the community.

Free Native American art program

Way before art galleries came along, art existed on caves, boulders and bluff shelters.

The Elkton, Tenn., historical society will present a free program on this Native American art Tuesday at Terri’s Restaurant on U.S. 31 in Elkton at 7 p.m.

Bart Henson, who has studied Native American ancient rock art for 40 years and authored several publications on the subject, will discuss prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs found along the Tennessee River.

The rock art once served as religious and ceremonial symbols, boundary markers, tribal affiliations and artistic expression.

The slide-illustrated program will cover several local rock art sites and explain significant aspects of the unique glyphs. Admission is free.

For more information, visit www.elktonhistory.net or call (931) 468-2051.

Danielle Komis Palmer

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