Visitors may be surprised at what they see at Ocmulgee Indian festival

Alaskan group new to Ocmulgee Indian Celebration

A group from Alaska share native customs during the 2016 Ocmulgee Indian Celebration held at the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon.
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A group from Alaska share native customs during the 2016 Ocmulgee Indian Celebration held at the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon.

Becky Plott’s first visit to the annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration turned out to be one she won’t forget.

Plott, of Gray, was at the event Saturday at the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon with her daughter, Haley Walker, of Warner Robins, and all four of Plott’s grandchildren. The youngest was little Amerson Walker, 8 months old this week, wiggling in a stroller.

While the two-day event hosts more than 300 Native Americans, artists, dancers and musicians, as well as hands-on demonstrations, Plott was blown away by something she didn’t expect.

“The coolest thing for me, I have to say, is I got a picture with Chief Noc-a-Homa,” Plott said. “It really made my day.”

Chief Noc-a-Homa, also known as Levi Walker Jr., was a mascot for the Atlanta Braves and he would dance on the mound at its games and run into a giant teepee. He stopped performing in the mid-1980s.

Plott said she has wonderful memories as a kid going to see the Braves and seeing Chief Noc-a-Homa perform. But she said there are probably a lot of people who didn’t recognize him since he hasn’t performed in such a long time.

“I just saw him sitting over there ... and I got a cute little picture with him,” she said. She also got him to sign and date a poster with his picture on it. “It was the highlight of my day. My dad would be smiling up in heaven.”

She and her family also enjoyed the event celebrating Native Americans, such as the dancers from Cherokee, North Carolina. Her older grandchildren liked seeing the mounds.

“I think it’s a very good educational experience,” Haley Walker said.

Ocmulgee Superintendent Jim David said about 19,000 attended last year’s festival and “we are hoping to break all records this year.” He was worried earlier in the week when rain was predicted for the weekend. But while it was hotter Saturday than usual for this time of year, he said the crowd had been steady all day. The event continues 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at 1207 Emery Highway.

This year, the festival — now in its 25th year — hosted a group from Alaska for the first time. The group showcases dances and sports that are native to various parts of Alaska.

David said he was able to get a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to bring eight people from Alaska to perform and that he was excited to have them at the festival.

Jennifer Rogers, of Thomaston, brought her children, Ella Grace, 12, and Jackson, 9, to the event, also for the first time.

“I liked the dancing and the guy with the flute,” Ella Grace said. Her brother liked going into the ceremonial mound at the national monument as well as going into “tree huts” constructed for the festival.

“We enjoyed it,” Jennifer Rogers said. “We just knew it would be a good little weekend lesson for them.”

Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz