February 23, 2018  

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Inaugural Festival Showcases American Indian Artistry on Dec. 4

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Native American customs will be on display Dec. 4 for the inaugural Southeastern American Indian Festival. (Submitted photo)

The rich and varied culture-based artistic traditions of Native Americans will be showcased at the inaugural Southeastern American Indian Festival on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Sponsored by The University of Southern Mississippi Center for American Indian Research and Studies (CAIRS) and College of Arts and Letters, this festival will showcase Southeastern American Indian artistry including basket making, dance, storytelling, beadwork and other arts through continual demonstrations and extensive displays. The festival will run from 10 a.m-5 p.m. at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center. It is free and open to the public.

Dr. Tammy Greer, director of CAIRS and associate professor of psychology at Southern Miss, hopes this festival will create and maintain a vibrant community of individuals interested in preserving the cultures of the Southeastern American Indians. Through this gathering, native artists can share ideas, sell their art and participate in the greater Mississippi artistic community, according to Greer.

“The Gulf Coast has a thriving artistic community that Southern Miss is well integrated into and with support from the public school teachers, many of whom graduated from Southern Miss, this will be a diverse event,” said Greer.

The public will have the opportunity to interact with actual native artists and be exposed to the creative aspect of Native American culture.

“We have seldom been able to draw this many Native American artists to one place at the same time, because there are few native artists listed on the artist rosters of surrounding states,” Greer said. “But with the help of the Southern Miss Powwow community members we’ve confirmed the participation of several groups.”

The Southern Miss Powwow community members invited tribes from across Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina to share artistic talents at the festival. Participating tribes include the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Poarch Creek, Houma and the Cherokee. Noted potter Senora Lynch, who won a North Carolina Heritage Award in 2007, will join several other community honored artists at this event. 

Dan Isaac and Pearlie Thomas of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians with their groups of Social Dancers will involve spectators in the traditional art of social dancing. Doc Comby of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will translate stories from the original Choctaw language in books such as Tom Mould’s acclaimed Choctaw Tales. Other participants will showcase basket making, dress making, finger weaving, corn husk doll making, wood carving, and arrowhead making.

For more information on the Southeastern American Indian Festival, call Dr. Tammy Greer at 601.466.0948.