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Cape Coral Indian Festival to offer information, crafts

By Staff | Dec 5, 2008

Native American culture will come alive at Sun Splash Family Waterpark as the inaugural Cape Coral Indian Festival celebrates the traditions and culture of a multitude of Native American nations next weekend.
Organizers Rex Begaye and Barbara Huntoon said they wanted to bring the festival to the Cape because of the region’s rich historical ties to the Calusa and Seminole tribes.
Begaye, a member of the Navajo nation, and his wife, Huntoon, live in Sarasota, where they also sponsor another Indian festival at Oscar Shearer State Park in Sarasota County.
“My husband was interested in bringing some Indian culture to Lee County. There’s lots of Indian culture in the Cape with history of the Calusa, and it seemed like a good location,” Huntoon said.
Handmade gifts, including paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, bead work and leather work, will be available for purchase, along with the opportunity to learn Native American dance and music, and to meet representatives from the Cree and Cherokee nations.
Huntoon said it was “easy” for her husband to organize the members of the various tribes. Begaye’s work as an artist puts them on the road most of the year, where he cultivated a large network of contacts and friends.
“His art represents the traditional environmental teachings of his people,” Huntoon said. “He’s able to visually preserve those stories, and he wanted to focus on bringing the culture to Florida.”
Originally from the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon, Begaye met Huntoon in Sarasota, where the couple now call home when they are not traveling.
“It’s easier to measure how many weekends we have off during the year than it is how often we’re on the road,” Huntoon said. “We have six to eight weekends off a year. We’re constantly on the move.”
Traditional Native American drumming, signing and dance joins a Cree nation re-enactment encampment to teach about the traditions and lives of the native peoples of the country.
The Cape Coral Indian Festival will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec 13 -14. Tickets are available at the gate. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and children 5 and under are free.
For more information, contact Barbara Huntoon or Rex Begaye at 941-924-2784.