Native Americans are a demographic with rich and varied cultures, and they’ve worked hard to preserve and respect their heritage in the present day. Staying connected and having a community to share experiences with are needs almost every person can relate to.
The Native American people come together congregating in huge groups of people to celebrate their relations with one another, the generations who came before, and their spirituality.
If you’re interested in learning more, read on. I’ve written about two of the largest Native American national heritage festivals that, every year, thousands of people attend.
Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
The Red Earth Festival is held once a year in Oklahoma, and it’s a three-day celebration of traditional dance, art, and ceremonies. More than 30,000 people attend every year! A procession of all the dancers, singers, and tribe leaders begins the festival, and it’s a good way to learn about individual tribes and what makes them unique.
Once the parade’s over, everyone gathers to watch the dance competition, in which tribe members of all nations showcase their traditional dances in a contest of which dancer is most graceful and moving. It’s a profoundly spiritual experience, and the one of the only events where dancers from both north and south compete and dance together.
It doesn’t end there, either. There’s plenty of food to sample (Native American-style tacos, cinnamon rolls, and pumpkin bread being a few things to try), and gorgeous handmade art. Hundreds of Native American artists showcase their beadwork, animal hide art pieces, sculptures, pottery and more. If you’re a tribe member yourself, or a visitor who just wants to learn more about their culture, this festival is highly recommended. You shouldn’t miss it!
Gathering of Nations
Even more well-known than the Red Earth Festival, this event mostly showcases the history of the Native American people. It has another aspect to it, though; it raises awareness of issues impacting Native Americans today, and promotes discussions. At this festival, people who are working to advance the exposure of these issues are honored.
Like the Red Earth Festival, there’s dancing, art, music, food, and other forms of entertainment. One of the most highly anticipated ceremonies is the crowning of the winner of the Miss Indian World pageant. It’s not your typical pageant, even though there is a talent showcasing. Every year, a woman is chosen to represent the Native American people as a whole, as an ambassador. Once she’s crowned, she will travel for the next year throughout the U.S. and Canada, and also internationally. During her trips, she is responsible for promoting goodwill and unity between tribes, cultural awareness, and diversity.
There you have it. The Native American people have such a rich and diverse collection of cultures that it’d be a shame to miss out on these events. I highly suggest looking into attending one, if you can. Otherwise you might miss out on an incredibly enriching experience.