UA’s Moundville Native American Festival Aims to Educate, Entertain
MOUNDVILLE, Ala. — Visitors to The University of Alabama Museums’ Moundville Archaeological Park will soon be able to explore life through the eyes of Southeastern Native Americans.
Through storytelling, a variety of arts and crafts demonstrations, living history enactments and musical performances, the park’s annual Native American Festival brings to life the Southeastern Indian culture, a culture that is markedly different from the tribes found elsewhere in the Americas.
“There are 1,000 plus Native American tribes that remain, and probably that many different languages, different belief systems,” said Betsy Irwin, festival director and education and outreach coordinator for the park. “But, people still have this Hollywood image of Indians. We want to help dispel those stereotypes and educate children and the general public. The festival is a great way to do that.”
Ranked as one of the finest and most comprehensive events of its kind, the festival, which runs from Wednesday, Oct. 9, through Saturday, Oct. 12, features storyteller and musician Paula Nelson, an AniKituwah from Cherokee, N.C.
Raised in the Kolanvyi Community, Nelson is a multimedia visual/textile artist, performance artist, singer/songwriter and published poet. Her creativity lends itself well to her 13-year career as a living history educator as is evident through the quality of her displays and historical clothing. Well-known in the Southeastern Indian communities as a performer and songwriter specializing in composing songs and lyrics in the Cherokee language, Nelson has a discography of four CDs to her credit, and she has won numerous awards for her art and publications.
Most recently, she has received certification through PBS as a cultural educator through musical media, and teachers all over the nation have access to her music and performances to utilize as a teaching tool for children and adults.
Also featured at this year’s festival is the Pura Fe Trio, a group of three talented performers from three contrasting backgrounds. For most of the last four years, the trio has performed around the globe, recording and entertaining audiences wherever they go. Led by the soulful stylings of Native legend Pura Fe, the group also includes Cary Morin on voice and guitar and Peter Knudson on voice and percussion.
Throughout the festival, the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe will demonstrate stomp dancing for visitors. Stomp dancing is one of the oldest and most traditional types of dances used ceremonially by many of the Southeastern Native American tribes. The group was formed in 1992 to educate, preserve and restore the Chickasaw traditions, and they serve as goodwill ambassadors for the tribe.
Other performers will include flutists Billy Whitefox, Charlie MatoToyela, Jimmy Yellowhorse and Sydney Mitchell; hoop dancer Lyndon Alec; Cherokee cultural specialist Shirley Oswalt; emcee, musician and storyteller GrayHawk Perkins; and the Mystic Wind Choctaw Dancers.
The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission to the festival is $10 for adults; $8 students; and free for children ages 5 and younger. Group discounts with reservations are available. For more information, or to make group reservations, phone 205/371-2234.
UA’s Moundville Archaeological Park is 13 miles south of I-20/59 off of Alabama Highway 69. Described as the Big Apple of the 14th century, Moundville was America’s largest city north of Mexico 800 years ago. This National Historic Landmark, part of UA Museums, contains 320 acres with more than 20 preserved prehistoric Indian mounds, campgrounds, picnic areas, boardwalk nature trail, theater, Riverbend Lodge and a museum containing some of the finest Mississippian-era artifacts in North America.
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.