This weekend’s Ocmulgee Indian Celebration will serve as a myth buster of sorts, educating visitors on American Indian culture.
“We always try to make sure people understand the true Native American culture. We’ve had kids visit who thought all the Indians were dead, and we want all of our visitors to understand that the native culture is still very vibrant,” said Jim David, Ocmulgee National Monument superintendent. “They have a chance to talk with and interact with true native people.”
The annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration again will feature a variety of storytellers, artists, craftspeople, dancers and lifestyle demonstrators, providing live examples of the way native people lived in the early 1800s, David said, adding that the Two Warriors on Horseback also will be returning for performances in the dance arena. An exciting addition to the celebration this year is stickball, often called “the little brother of war,” which will be demonstrated in the arena as well.
“Tribes used stickball in many cases to settle disagreements. They played, declared a winner, and then would agree that whoever won, their side of the agreement would be upheld,” David said, adding that the “game” is still played and is still a very important part of American Indian culture, though nowadays it is played more for competition than to settle disagreements.
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The stickball demonstrations will include narration to explain what’s going on for visitors.
Another addition to the celebration this year is an example of a wattle and daub structure.
“We always try to get across to people that the image of all native people living in teepees is completely bogus,” David said. “The wattle and daub structure, which was used by mound builders in this area, is made of a series of posts with a woven fabric stretched between them. The weave is then packed with mud to make a clay structure.”
Another addition to the demonstrators this year is a man from the Muscogee Creek nation who will be giving lessons on the Muscogee language.
David said the celebration always includes activities for visitors of all ages, and kids in particular will enjoy the clay table, where they can make a pot to take home with them for no additional charge. Adults will enjoy shopping and visiting with the American Indian pottery and jewelry vendors.
“I’ve bought my wife’s anniversary present several times over the years from one of the jewelry vendors; the pieces are very nice,” David said.
And, of course, everyone will enjoy getting a taste of the treats that are always available at the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration, which include native foods such as Indian tacos, fry bread, buffalo burgers and roasted corn. Drinks, ice cream and hot dogs also will be available.
Ocmulgee Indian Celebration
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Where: Ocmulgee National Monument, 1207 Emery Highway
Cost: $5 adults; $2 for children ages 6-12 and active duty military; children under 6 are free.