Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is proud to announce our annual Native American Festival to be held Saturday, and Sunday, June 2nd and 3rd, 2018. This educational event provides the opportunity for our visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee. The event opens on Saturday, June 2nd, running from 10 am until 8:00 pm; and from 10:00 am until 6 pm on Sunday June 3rd. Most activities are held at Fort Watauga, unless it rains. In the event of rain the show will relocate to the Visitors Center. On Saturday evening, a traditional campfire will be held at the far end of the meadow in front of Fort Watauga at 7:00 pm with several guest storytellers. Be sure to bring your own chair or blanket. Sunday morning will feature a special opportunity to visit and shop with the unique artisans and exceptional craftsmen before the day’s activities begin at 11:30.
This weekend long festival will feature traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, traditional Native American song and dance, Cherokee storytelling and legends, Native American flute, Cherokee language workshops, and craft demonstrations and sales.
A unique feature of the Native American Culture festival is our educational/ demonstration area, located within Fort Watauga. The dance circle is located in the center of the fort, where the popular traditional dance and drum performances take place. In addition, flute music, storytelling, lectures, and so much more take place within the circle, which share native culture and history with our visitors.
The interior of the fort will also host a variety of excellent demonstrations, which include a children’s blowgun challenge, beadwork, gourd art, pine needle basketry, stone carving, Cherokee language, wood carving, flint-knapping, corn shuck dolls, native river cane flutes, pottery, and a replicated Cherokee cabin from the early 19th century with historical re-enactors, Mark and Sherry Finchum.
Just outside the fort, exceptional Native American arts and crafts will be featured, in addition to ethnic Cherokee food, and a Lakota Tipi exhibit.
In our annual tradition, the circle will host several performances of Native American music, drum, and dance. The dancing demonstrations will include the Fancy Dance and Hoop Dance, the Jingle Dance, the Men’s Traditional, Grass and Straight Dances, and many more. All are invited to dance, so bring your regalia. Newly added will be a demonstration of 18th century Cherokee social dancing. The host of this portion of the event, Dale Cloer, makes his home in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Our featured Cherokee dancers are internationally known hoop dancer Eddie Swimmer, Head Man Dancer Dean Swimmer, and champion powwow dancer Nikki Crisp! Eddie Swimmer has captivated audiences across the globe using between 36 and 42 hoops. His accomplishments include a former World Champion Hoop Dancer title, performances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and in the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Dallas Texas as well as choreographing the Broadway show hoop dance for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Dean Swimmer has competitively placed in many powwows across the Southeastern United States for many years and has been the featured lead man dancer in a multitude of Native American Festivals. Nikki Crisp as danced across the world as well, and has been performing for over 20 years. Her talents also include traditional beadwork and authentic frybread cooking. Nikki Crisp will be providing food vending for this event, including her famous Indian tacos.
Our 2018 featured storyteller is Freeman Owle. He is a noted lecturer, historian, and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and has traveled all over the eastern United States lecturing to various groups, which include churches, military units, and schools. Freeman Owle has told stories and presented programs on Cherokee history and culture throughout the Southeast for more than ten years.
Well known in the Cherokee community, Freeman Owle serves on the board of directors of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and is a coordinator for the Cherokee Heritage Trails project of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative. He is one of the featured storytellers in the book Living Stories of the Cherokee, and he also appears in the video documentary Cherokee: The Principal People, which aired on public television in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
Our featured speaker is Dr. Michael Abram of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery in Cherokee, NC, who will provide a glimpse into Cherokee history and legend. He will give two lectures on Saturday, “Cultural meaning of Cherokee Dreams”, and “The Life, Humor, and Wisdom of Will Rogers,”inside the circle of Fort Watauga. Dr. Abram has been presenting at this show since its beginning and is owner of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery. The gallery is presently being relocated from Cherokee to a location near Chattanooga. Dr. Abram has devoted his life to studying, preserving, and lecturing on Cherokee culture.
Daniel Bigay of Greeneville, TN will entertain with traditional flute music in addition to having his handmade, traditional Cherokee style flutes for sale. Daniel is a flute maker, Artist, Performer/Recording Artist, and demonstrator, who lives with his wife, Kay, in the mountains of Tennessee. He has released two CD’s, the most recent being nominated for best flute recording at the 2005 Indian Summer Music Awards. Daniel and Kay are passionate about education and sharing of the Cherokee culture in the school system, at Pow-Wow’s, and various shows and festivals.
Admission is $6.00 per adult, $1.00 for children. All proceeds from admissions go to Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park to support this event. This event is made possible by the support of Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, the DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Comfort Inn of Johnson City.