Come to the 21st Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration at the N.C. Museum of History for the state’s signature event for recognizing National American Indian Heritage Month. This festive and educational event for all ages will take place Saturday, Nov. 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Raleigh.
Members of all eight state-recognized tribes, including the Haliwa-Saponi from Warren and Halifax counties, will share their history and culture during this popular festival, named a “Top 20 Event” in 2016 by the Southeast Tourism Society. Admission is free.
Excitement builds throughout the day as drum groups, hundreds of dancers in regalia, craftspeople, storytellers and other presenters fill the museum and Bicentennial Plaza, in front of the building. There will be plenty of hands-on activities for children, such as a game with corncob darts and a scavenger hunt. Food vendors will be on-site, so enjoy lunch and stay awhile.
“Each year’s celebration brings something familiar and something new,” said Emily Grant, Youth Programs coordinator. “From demonstrations of centuries-old crafts to discussions of current issues and what it means to be American Indian in 2016, the event will be part family reunion, part pageantry and performance, and part celebration of the resiliency and energy of community.”
During the opening ceremony at 11 a.m., Sacred Cedar Productions will present traditional Haliwa-Saponi music and dance. Then the beats of intertribal drum groups will draw more attention to Bicentennial Plaza.
The Grand Entry at noon will be a sight to behold. Dressed in brilliantly colored regalia, each tribe will process onto the plaza for the roll call of tribes and organizations. Then watch traditional dances by the world-renowned Warriors of AniKituhwa of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, followed by the Iroquois Smoke Dance by Meherrin tribe members. At 2 p.m. Miss Indian North Carolina Samantha Simmons Alonso (Coharie tribe) will lead powwow dance demonstrations.
During the day, take advantage of firsthand opportunities to learn about the state’s American Indians, past and present. Here’s a sampling of what attendees can experience. For a full schedule of all performances and presentations, visit NCMOH-programs.com or call 919-807-7900.
● Watch craftspeople make pottery, beadwork, stone carvings, gourd rattles, hunting tools, jewelry and more. These individuals include Jamie Locklear (Waccamaw Siouan), who is known for his pine-needle baskets.
● Learn about weapon making from John Blackfeather Jeffries (Occaneechi-Saponi).
● Dive into hands-on activities such as imprinting a design onto pottery, writing words in Cherokee, shooting a bow and arrow, and sewing stitches with the Coharie Quilters.
● Hear Lumbee storytellers Gwen and Barbara Locklear and Cherokee storytellers Lloyd and Dawn Arneach share traditional and contemporary tales. Lloyd Arneach is a recipient of the Mountain Heritage Award from Western Carolina University.
● Listen to elders share stories about their experiences during segregation. Others will talk about moving to Greensboro in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to seek employment and eventually form the Greensboro Native American Association.
● Attend the informative talk Water in the Lumbee World: Natural Ecosystems, Human Communities, and Indigenous Knowledge, presented by Dr. Ryan E. Emanuel (Lumbee), associate professor, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at N.C. State University.
● Learn about traditional Southeastern clothing and lifestyle from Meherrin tribe members Patrick Suarez and O’Tika Jones.
● Watch Ila Hatter present a cooking demonstration on wild foods in western North Carolina, and hear Chef Lorrie Dial (Lumbee) highlight cuisine and lifeways of eastern North Carolina.
For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org.