Indian Festival promotes
Thundering drum beats and the sweet notes of Native American flute music filled the ears of Cape Coral residents as they filtered through the inaugural Cape Coral Native American Indian Festival this weekend, buying wares, learning about the different cultures and dancing along to live music.
The festival, held at the Sun Splash Water Park event grounds Saturday and Sunday, was brought to Cape Coral by Rex Begaye of the Navajo Nation and his wife, Barbara Huntoon, who live in Sarasota.
“We’re trying to make people understand there is a native culture here,” Begaye said. “The most important thing that we talk about is Mother Earth, Father Sky and mankind. Mother Earth is a gift. It is the greatest gift that was given to us and we need to take care of it.”
Teaching people about Native American culture was like “throwing a rock into the pond,” creating ripples in the pond that reached outward, he said.
Dancers danced in a circle to drumming and singing, performed by members of the Cherokee and Comanche Nations.
The circle was representative of the circle of life, Begaye said.
“Everything is in a circle,” he said. “Even your blood cells.”
“It’s like our church,” said Rick Bird about the circle, who drummed along with his Birdchoppers while others danced. “All of our music has a purpose and a meaning.”
The Birdchoppers attend 45 Pow Wows annually, Bird said.
“We’ve been divided by the color of skins,” he said. “We need to become unified again to become a strong nation.”
The drummers performed a song Bird wrote to honor emergency workers after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, called the 911 song.
Many of their songs held meanings such as those of healing, friendship, peace and unity.
Katrina Fisher, of the Canada-native Cree Nation, performed hoop dancing and lectured at a re-enactment encampment to teach about living in Northern tribes.
“I think we’re breaking stereotypes,” Fisher said. “It’s up to us to historically correct everything. You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going.”
Fisher hoop danced for event goers while her son, 21-year-old Otter Oliver, drummed and sang along. Fisher has been hoop dancing for 20 years.
“Everyone has their own style of dance,” she said.
She also explained Native American lodging, hunting and trapping, trading and bead work from the perspective of a Cree woman.
The lodging, which Fisher said takes from 15 minutes to half an hour to set up or tear down, was set up at the festival and many furs and bead works were displayed for the public.
Fisher attended the festival with four of her eight children, who helped with the encampment re-enactment.
Vendors sold a variety of hand-made goods during the festival, including paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, bead work and leather work.
Ron Warren also performed Native American flute and keyboard music at the event.