Southeastern tribes share cultural traditions

The 6th annual Southeastern Tribes Cultural Arts Celebration will bring together master dancers, craftsmen, artists and athletes from the five main southeastern tribes:  Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Choctaw. The celebration takes place Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, on the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds.

This educational and entertaining event teaches and perpetuates the history and culture of these tribes through live demonstrations of traditional tribal dance, storytelling performances, craft demonstrations, primitive skills encampment and juried competitions.

Encampment demonstrators will set up living history exhibitions and illustrate primitive survival skills used by tribes in the 1700s and 1800s, such as building bark huts, cooking, fire-making, flint-knapping and carving arrowheads.

Dancers from each tribe will explain the history and significance of each dance prior to exhibiting performances of Stealing Partners and the Bear and Quail dance, among others. The Stomp dance, a strong traditional dance of southeastern tribes, will be performed by the Mystic Wind Social Dancers and their entire community. The Warriors of AniKituhwa will perform age-old dances that have been resurrected using wax cylinder recordings — including the Cherokee War, Buffalo and Ant dances.

More than 50 artists and craftsmen will be on hand displaying their indigenous talents. Master craftsmen from each tribe will provide live demonstrations of rivercane basket weaving, finger weaving with beads, mask making, stone and wood carving and stamped pottery. Artists will exhibit their works and participate in a juried art competition. Archery, blowgun and running contests will test the prowess of the best athletes and competitors from each tribe as they compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes. Other special events include Cherokee Stickball demonstrations.

The original idea for the event was conceived by John Standingdeer Jr., who envisioned a special sort of “extended family reunion,” where tribes would come together to keep their traditions alive. This event is sponsored by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Cherokee Historical Association and the N.C. Arts Council.


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