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Indian Festival today at Sun Splash

By Staff | Dec 13, 2008

The inaugural Cape Coral Indian Festival opens today at the Sun Splash Festival grounds.
Organizers Rex Begaye and wife Barbara Huntoon brought the festival to the Cape because they wanted all of Southwest Florida to get a true taste of native american cultures and traditions.
“The focus is to share the traditional native american culture and artistry,” Huntoon said “It’s truly a unique event. It’s really focused on helping people understand the culture.”
Handmade gifts including paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, bead work and leather work, will all be available for purchase, along with the chance to learn Native American dance and music, and to meet members of the Cree and Cherokee nations.
Begaye, a member of the Navajo nation, and Huntoon live in Sarasota, where they hold a similar festival at Oscar Shearer State Park.
Huntoon said it had been very “easy” for Begaye to organize the members of the various tribes for event. Begaye’s work as an artist puts he and Huntoon on the road quite often over the years, during which he cultivated a large network of close contacts and friends.
“It’s an opportunity as a traditional Native American to bring people from many nations together and introduce them to the public,” Huntoon said of her husband’s efforts. “The native peoples are present everywhere but not always in the public eye. This really is a great opportunity for the area and the public to learn a little something.”
Highlights of the festival include Rick Bird from the Cherokee Nation and his Bird Choppers, performing traditional Native American drumming, singing, and various styles of dance.
There will also be performances from Ron Warren, playing both Native American flutes and keyboards. And Katrina Fisher, from the Cree Nation, will have a re-enactment encampment set up to teach about the way of living of Northern tribes. The Cree Nation originated in Canada.
The dances and songs on display are centuries old, according to Huntoon, as each dance holds a distinct and precious story.
“The artistry is quite beautiful,” Huntoon said. “Its culturally important because it holds traditions that go back 1,000 years. Everything has a story.”
The Cape Coral Indian Festival takes place 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Dec. 13 – 14. Tickets are available at the gate, $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 941-924-2784.