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The University of Alabama

‘Saturday in the Park’ Continues at UA’s Moundville Park

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s Moundville Archaeological Park continues its Saturday in the Park program series into the fall.

The Saturday events feature different topics related to Southeastern Native Americans or archaeology. Many of the programs, which run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. unless otherwise noted, will also include hands-on activities for children.

Saturday in the Park programs offer returning visitors something different each week during the warmer months, said Betsy Irwin, education outreach coordinator at Moundville Archaeological Park. Many of the topics directly relate to the recently renovated exhibits in the Jones Museum or the archaeology, flora and fauna of the park.

The event topics are as follows:

Aug. 3: Mary Smith, of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, will discuss Southeastern Indian baskets and textiles. Smith just finished a large mat similar to the ones displayed in the museum. She is also accomplished in featherwork. She was one of three artists that worked on the feather cape worn by the Chief of Moundville in the museum’s recently renovated exhibits. Young visitors can make and take a small basket of their own.

Aug. 10: The ancient tools and weapons program will feature displays of assorted items made from stone, wood and fiber. Longtime park volunteer and ancient technology specialist Bill Skinner will demonstrate and explain the different tools and weapons used by Southeastern Indians and other tribal people around the world. Children will have an opportunity to use an atlatl, which is a spear-throwing device, and learn how to weave and try out a simple sling similar in design to what the Choctaws used.

Aug. 17: Kayle Cook, a park intern from the University of Montevallo, will demonstrate cordage making and hemp jewelry. Making string, rope and cord from plant fibers is an ancient and vital skill. Young park visitors will learn how to twist fibers into simple cordage and get a chance to make their own bracelet.

Aug. 24: Betsy Irwin, park education outreach coordinator, will display and discuss gourds, the oldest plant known to have been cultivated in North America. As containers from nature, they can be made into bowls, jugs, baskets and birdhouses. Native Americans also used them to make masks and dance rattles. A wide array of these natural containers, as well as several varieties of gourds, will be discussed and displayed. Children will have an opportunity to decorate their own small gourd.

Aug. 31: Park visitors will have an opportunity to tour the museum exhibits and learn how archaeologists know how Mississippian Indians looked and dressed. They will see what the Moundville Indians looked like and find out what researchers think different symbols mean. Afterward, they can meet Chip Wente, a longtime Moundville volunteer from Livingston, as he discusses how Mississippian Indians adorned themselves. Children will also be able to make themselves a shell necklace the old-fashioned way.

Also, Warrior resident Cat Sloan, who is of Cherokee descent, will teach a Native American Crafts Class – The Basics of Beading from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fee and registration is required.

Sept. 7: Chip Wente, artist and longtime park volunteer, will discuss prehistoric and history pottery making, while displaying a wide assortment of vessels made using age-old techniques. Actual prehistoric pot sherds will be on hand for visitors to see and touch. Young potters will get a chance to play with clay and try out several activities related to Southeastern Indian pottery.

This season’s Saturday in the Park was sponsored by an anonymous donor. Park entrance fees will apply.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.