Saturday, November 1, 2008
Wayne Community College is hosting its first Native American Festival on the college campus today and tomorrow, November 1 & 2. The goal is to educate the public on the rich heritage of Native American culture in North Carolina. The MC is Jamie K. Oxendine, Headman is Osceola Mullin and the Headlady is Tina Mullin. The hours are Sat. 10 AM - 7 PM with Grand Entry at 12 AM and 5 PM. Sunday 11 AM - 5 PM with Grand Entry at 1 PM. Kau Tah No Jrs and Southern Eagle are the host drums. Dancers shone under a beautiful sky today to the deep, earthy beat. Veterans, including several of the performers, were honored in the opening ceremony. There were no pictures allowed, but it was a beautiful introduction. There were several vendors, including Moonhawk, who makes handmade wooden flutes and breastplates. Danny Arnette who runs Moonhawk, (and is also my piano teacher and Henry's guitar teacher), performed on flute. Also of note were exquisite gourds for sale by Visions of Gourds by Dion. I'm including a picture of the wooden flutes at another booth; unfortunately, I didn't get a card from this booth to identify the maker. You would have to see these in person to appreciate the intricacies and workmanship, but I do have several photos. Henry bought me a beautiful butterfly barrette made of beads and I purchased one of the worry dolls sold by Lazy S Mercantile. The story of these tiny dolls is that when a child goes to sleep at night, he/she is to tell his/her worries to the doll, then place the doll under the pillow. The doll will remove the worry at night. They are very finely woven and quite cute. The masks in the photos are Mayan from Lone Wolf Creations of Lancaster, Ohio. and Wanda's Jewelry (Lumbee).
Mr. Oxendine did an excellent job of explaining the various dances. Especially interesting were the grass dancers. He explained that one theory of the grass dancers was that they would dance on the fields to mat the grass down for the tribe to set up camp. Another was that this could have originated with warrior tribes who danced for the well being of the tribe. Dancers wear bright yarn or ribbons to simulate the waving grass in a plain. The dance is characterized by fancy and intricate footwork. The jingle dancers were women with tin ornaments made from the lids of snuff cans sewn to their dresses. This was also thought to bring health to the people of the tribe. The dance is beautiful to see and hear. Another dance I loved was the fancy shawl or butterfly dance, also done by the women. The dance is done with colorful shawls draped around the shoulders simulating butterflies and involves much fancy footwork and spins. He also noted that the Native Americans made cloth from cotton and also some from Spanish moss. Straight dancing which comes from the dignified posture of the dancer were also performed as well as men's and women's traditional, and men's fancy dancing.
The children were a delight to watch. Children naturally love to move, especially to music. This was a wonderful opportunity for the local children to be able to share in this type of dancing and music. The Native American children who performed showed absolute pride and joy in their movements. I loved the combination of traditional dress and modern additions, like the one child whose outfit was partially made from spiderman fabric. Which just goes to show kids are kids everywhere.
Henry and I shared a large piece of Navaho frybread, similar to funnel cake. It was too delicious and I ate way too much. Thanks to the Native American participants for allowing us to share in this experience today and to Wayne Community College for hosting. Hopefully, this will be a yearly tradition. I've included a few more pictures in the slideshow at the right.