Moundville Native American Festival showcases indigenous traditions

1710011 Mw Native American Festival
1710011, native american festival

WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Giselle Hood

This week, Moundville Archaeological Park is hosting tribal storytellers, dancers, and art vendors who are keeping the traditions of their ancestors alive through the 34th annual Moundville Native American Festival.

“It’s Alabama’s history. So it’s not only our history, it’s your history, it’s everybody who lives here’s history,” Chickasaw Nation storyteller Amy Bluemel said. “I think it’s important for everyone to understand this was the New York City of its day.”

The tribe was so prominent that the area was once America’s largest city north of Mexico. Living history presenters continue the culture of their ancestors by educating visitors on traditional cooking, clothing and tool demonstrations.

One of their significant art forms is stomping, an ancient dance that was started as a way for Native Americans to speak to their Creator.

There are four kinds of these dances: animal, social, spiritual and war.

“You light a fire and you go around the fire,” Bluemel said. “It starts at dark, and then we’ll dance sometimes until six or seven o’clock in the morning as the smoke carries up your prayers.”

Tribes from around the country journeyed to the festival to showcase their stomping.

Local artist Betsy Irwin also contributed. Irwin used to work for the festival, but she now spends her time creating unique gourd art and sharing her passion with the community.

“What they’ve done at the festival over the years is try to bring these tradition bearers back to share the culture with the young Native Americans, as much as with the children and other families of Alabama,” Irwin said.

If you haven’t been able to visit the festival yet, the last day of the festival is Saturday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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