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29th annual Native American Culture Festival underway at Sycamore Shoals

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jun 1, 2019 at 11:22 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Native American Culture Festival at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park lived up to its reputation as one of the park’s most popular attractions Saturday, with an array of primitive crafts, music, dancing, storytelling and cultural demonstrations enthralling a crowd of several hundred people.

Beneath the trees that line the park’s entrance, festivalgoers browsed through a rich display of Native American artwork; handcrafted weapons and tools; dream catchers and medicine wheels; leather goods; beaded, silver and turquoise jewelry; colorful primitive toys; and more.

On benches circled around the lawn between the park’s picnic area and the reconstructed Fort Watauga, they sat in the shade and watched as members of Eastern Band of Cherokee shared some of the history of their music, dance and cultural traditions.

For those who worked up an appetite, there was Native American frybread topped with multiple varieties of festival flavor — pizza, tacos, nachos, hot dogs, burgers and more.

And for dessert, there was frybread loaded with fresh sliced strawberries, drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar - all “made with love” and all under the supervision of Eastern Band of Cherokee food vendor Nikki Crisp, owner and operator of NIkki’s Frybread.

The festival will continue Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with the following schedule of events:

• 10 a.m., Native American arts and crafts demonstrators and shopping.

• 11:30, Cherokee Language Workshop with Freeman Owle.

• Noon, Cherokee dance and drum demonstrations with the Mossy Creek Drum Group and blowgun demonstration by Dale Cloer.

• 2 p.m., Native American flute demonstration with Daniel Bigay.

• 2:30, “The Role of Women within Cherokee Culture during the 18th Century,” a presentation by Jackie Fischer.

• 3, “Are you Smarter than a park ranger?” presented by Mark and Sherry Finchum.

• 3:30, Cherokee storytelling with Freeman Owle.

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