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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Siege, Native American Festival set for Sycamore Shoals

May 17th, 2013 2:21 pm by John Thompson

Siege, Native American Festival set for Sycamore Shoals

Last year, the festival featured a drum circle.

ELIZABETHTON — Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area will be hosting two large festivals in the next few weeks. Each festival celebrates life in this area more than 200 years ago, but from two different perspectives.

This weekend, the park celebrates its annual commemoration of the Siege of Fort Watauga, when the first white settlers of Northeast Tennessee were attacked by Cherokee warriors in July 1776. The second festival at the park, June 1-2, is the Native American Festival. This educational event provides the opportunity for visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee.

The siege of Fort Watauga on Saturday and Sunday will feature 150 living history re-enactors portraying colonial, British and Cherokee men, women and children. They will retell the events of the siege and some of the most dramatic and romantic moments of early Tennessee history. There will be re-enactments of such scenes as John Sevier’s rescue of his future wife, Bonnie Kate, as she runs toward the barricaded fort to escape the first Cherokee attack. 

This year’s siege has something new.

Mars Chocolate North America has created a division in its company to celebrate and research the long history of chocolate and the use of chocolate during the colonial period in America. Visitors may enjoy the sights and smells of the chocolate demonstration, enjoy a sample of a colonial-style chocolate drink and purchase some of the American Heritage Chocolate products.

The Native American 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.

The festival traditionally features a Cherokee artist, and this year’s featured artist is a longtime participant of the festival, Freeman Owle, of Cherokee, N.C., will be demonstrating the carving of Cherokee stone pipes and other stone carvings, as well as sharing traditional Cherokee stories. In addition to his storytelling presentations each day, Freeman will be offering a Cherokee language workshop both days.

Dr. Michael Abram, a renowned scholar of Cherokee culture, will once again present a series of lectures at this year’s festival. He will give two lectures June 1, “Cherokee Beliefs about the Panther” and “Origin, Role, and Importance of the Pine Tree in Cherokee Culture,” inside the circle of Fort Watauga.

At 6:30 p.m. June 1 in the Visitors Center Theater, he will lecture on “Cherokee Children — Games, Raising, and Behavior.”

The annual tradition of the circle will once again be established to present Cherokee dances, music and drumming. New this year will be demonstrations of 18th century Cherokee social dancing.

Once again, the festival will feature a full-color promotional poster of the festival created by local artist Vickie Shell, a partner in the Johnson City advertising firm of Osborne, Shell and Miller.

Admission to the festival is $4 for adults and $1 for children. All proceeds go to the Friends of the Sycamore Shoals Historic Area to support the festival. 

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