Fri October 3, 2003
Moundville Native American Festival Ends Saturday
By Alabama Public Radio
Moundville, AL – Thousands of people are flocking to the Moundville Archaeological Park in Hale County for the annual Native American Festival. The festival is held to honor the history and traditions of an area that was the largest city in North America during the 14th century. This year's event includes of strong lineup of musicians and dancers. On Friday morning at the Performance Stage, a Muskogee (Mus-koh- gee) hoop dancer keeps step with his callers as he wraps colored hoops around his arms, legs and body.
As he dances, he manipulates the rings to show different things he wants to give thanks for, like the eagle and the Earth. Native American Festival director Betsy Gilbert says the Muskogee dancers have a rich history.
"They have a lot of different kinds of dances, and a lot of them are about different kinds of animals. There's a tick dance and a rattlesnake dance. One of our favorites is the guinea dance where you have partners. They cross hands, and then on command, everybody jumps around in a circle very similar to the way a guinea bird would."
Dancing and music are a big part of this year's festival. The Muskogee dancers will perform again during the festival's final day tomorrow. Also, performing will be Mary Youngblood, who won a Grammy this year for Best Native American Music Album. She is scheduled to perform on flute at noon.
The festival also has plenty of other activities for adults and children, including arts and crafts and a target range that allow the chance to learn how to use traditional Native American weapons.