Big Doings in Tennessee
Tennessee was once part of the homelands of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole and other tribes, and some 15,000 Indians reside in the state today. In what has become one of the largest Native events east of the Mississippi, many of these folks, plus thousands of visitors, gather annually for the Pow wow and Fall Festival hosted by the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee. This year’s festival is being held Oct. 14–16 at Long Hunter State Park, just off I-24 in Nashville. Some 14,000 to 18,000 people typically attend the festival.
The event includes a competition powwow (with dancers drawn from the region as well as Oklahoma, the Dakotas and even farther afield), a large arts and crafts fair, a tipi village, artist demonstrations, storytellers, sale of traditional foods, demonstrations of old Native games and other activities. Tim Tallchief of Oklahoma and Winona Yellowhammer of Tennessee will serve as masters of ceremonies and Marty Pinnecoose of Oregon as arena director. Also present will be the 2011 NAIA Princess, Alison B. Sanders (Choctaw). Activities will kick off Friday at 9 a.m., and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Opening ceremonies for the powwow will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The host organization was launched in 1982 and is guided by an all-Indian board of directors. Its mission is to provide social services to the Native peoples of Tennessee and to aid in their cultural revival. Ray Emanuel has served as the group’s executive director for six years. He says of the festival, “There’s nothing else like it in this region. All the vendors and dancers are registered and must show proof of tribal heritage, so we present the real thing here—which is what people want to see. We try to make it as traditional as we can. It’s a lot of fun!”
Admission to the festival will cost $6 for adults and $3 for children (ages 6–12). Seniors and children under 6 are free. For additional information, call 615/232-9179 or visit www.naiatn.org.