The Native American Cultural Festival will be held April 13-15 at Chehaw. The event attracts thousands of visitors and includes exhibits, demonstrators and vendors from all over the Southeast.
ALBANY, Ga. — Chehaw Park will soon be dotted with teepees and bark shelters. It will be alive with colorful dancers representing such Native American tribes as Cherokee, Creek, Lakota and Comanche.
Chehaw’s annual Native American Cultural Festival, Friday through Sunday, April 13-15, brings a cross section of Native American culture to the modern South, according to Ben Kirkland, natural resources manager for Chehaw Park.
Doug Porter, executive director of Chehaw, said the event is oriented toward family fun and enjoyment with an ultimate goal of educating the public on Native American culture.
Dancers representative of a few of the more than 500 Native American tribes will perform in colorful regalia and also explain the significance of the dances, Kirkland said. In addition, visitors are invited to join in the Friendship dance. There will be authentic teepees and bark shelters set up for up-close viewing.
“Many of us think of teepees as homes for the original Native Americans,” Kirkland said, “but there were no teepees east of the Mississippi River. Most Eastern tribes lived in bark shelters.”
J.J. Kent, Native American flutist, will participate in the festival along with Diamond Brown, who will discuss Cherokee culture and history.
In addition, there will be an Aztec dance team and instruction on Aztec history. Visitors will learn about chipping out arrowheads, tanning deer hides, pottery-making and fire starting,
“And if that’s not enough,” Kirkland said, “We have Steven Taylor speaking on edible and medicinal plants, the blacksmith Ken Purdy; and Nancy Basket, who will tell stories and make baskets.”
One of Kirkland’s favorite demonstrations, he said, is that of the southeastern blowgun, made from river cane, shooting darts tied with thistle down.
According to Kirkland, there will be food vendors and a wide variety of Native American crafts — including
fine Southwestern jewelry — available for purchase.
“A lot of the jewelry is actually purchased from Hopi, Navaho and Zuni craftsmen in Arizona and Oklahoma,” Kirkland said, “and the quality is known all over.”
There is no additional charge to attend the festival. Kirkland said that normal entrance fees of $8.75 for adults and $5.75 for children under 12 will apply. Friday will be a “school day,” Kirkland said, with a slightly smaller program schedule than for the remainder of the weekend. Chehaw Park and the event will be open from 9:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. on Friday; from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday; and from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday.