Honoring Native Alabamian History at the Cold Water Native American Festival
September 11, 2017
September 11, 2017
The rich traditions, culture, and art from America’s first people were on display at Oka Kapassa in Tuscumbia’s Spring Park on September 8 and 9.
Representatives from more than a dozen tribes returned to share their heritage with the communities of the Shoals at the place the Chickasaw called Oka Kapassa, meaning Cold Water. The Oka Kapassa:Return to Cold Water Native American Festival brought more than 150 artists and demonstrators to display their work, dance and perform music, and demonstrate the life skills of Native Americans.
Education is considered the key component of the Oka Kapassa Festival, which draws recognition among educators and historians alike. Elementary school students from across the region attended special activities on Friday morning. Events included storytelling, dancing, music, art, and living history demonstrations.
“The Festival is authentic in its portrayal of the Native American heritage in the state and the region. Oka Kapassa tells the story truthfully and compellingly. This is a most interesting and fulfilling experience!” said local educator and historian Billy Ray Warren.
The public was invited to Spring Park on Saturday when festivities ran from 9:00 am –6 pm. Dancers in full regalia demonstrated both Pow Wow style and Stomp dances. Other festival events included blow gun, tomahawk, and stickball demonstrations, flint-knapping, basket making, pottery, beading and jewelry, archery, hoop dancing, storytelling, corn shuck doll artistry, hair braiding, historical encampments, drum and flute, and native language booths. Special Native American foods such as buffalo burgers, fry bread, and Indian tacos were also available to sample.
An ALABAMA 200 event, the festival has been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, and, in 2016, it was designated a National Park Service Centennial event. Credited for its authenticity and educational focus, the festival requires that participants be Native American and hold federally recognized documentation.
The 2017 Oka Kapassa Festival was dedicated to the memory of board members Ellen Goode, Tom Hendrix, and Robert Thrower.