Family Picks

Celebrate Native American heritage

CorrespondentNovember 15, 2012 

N'aka Leviner, a member of the Lumbee tribe, will be among the many dancers at the American Indian Heritage Celebration.


This is the weekend to take the family to downtown Raleigh for a free festival at the N.C. Museum of History.

At the American Indian Heritage Celebration, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, your kids can watch a Cherokee war dance, play corncob darts, learn how to grind corn or eat buffalo burgers.

The festival in celebration of American Indian Heritage Month has been held annually for 17 years and is one of the museum’s biggest events.

While many associate American Indians with places like Arizona and New Mexico, North Carolina is home to eight state-recognized tribes that are spread from the mountains to the coast: Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw-Siouan.

The festival will feature cultural elements from every tribe, including dances in traditional dress, drum groups, storytellers and craftspeople. Events will be indoors and outside the museum’s front doors on Bicentennial Plaza.

Be sure to arrive by noon for the “Grand Entry,” when Miss Indian North Carolina will lead dancers and drummers on a parade through Bicentennial Plaza.

There will also be musical performances and opportunities to see native craftspeople at work. You can watch a dugout canoe being burned into shape or see a hide-tanning demonstration. You can see traditional potters, basket makers and stone carvers at work. You can even see how traditional Indian weapons are constructed.

For younger kids, there will be lots of hands-on games and crafts, including the chance to make a ribbonwork bookmark, as well as a scavenger hunt. There will also be food vendors selling American Indian-inspired treats such as fry bread, sweet potato tarts and collard sandwiches.

For more information:

• If you don’t want to brave downtown Raleigh, there is another history-related event Saturday at Yates Mill County Park (on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh) called “The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker.” From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., kids can learn how Colonial frontier communities prepared for the dark, cold days of winter. They can knead bread, roll candles and do other hands-on activities. For more information, call the park at 919-856-6675.

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