Virginia Indian Festival returns to Riverbend Park

indian-festivalThe 16th Annual Virginia Indian Festival returns to Riverbend Park on Saturday, September 7, 2013. You can watch dance performances, shop for homemade crafts, and learn about the Native Americans who have lived and still live in Northern Virginia. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is $5 per person.

Native Americans from the Monacan Nation and the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Rappahannock, Tauxenent, and Upper Mattaponi tribes are participating in the event. They will perform traditional drumming and dances, and demonstrate how to carve a dug-out canoe from a tree trunk using hot embers and an axe.

Attendees can help build a representational version of a longhouse, the traditional home of forest-dwelling tribes of the Mid-Atlantic region.  They’ll use authentic materials to construct a frame for the walls, roof and beds, and cover it with natural materials like bark or grasses.

The colorful festival will pulse with song and dance. Join in a dance circle or throw spears and shoot a bow and arrow. Learn how to make primitive tools such as the ones Native Americans used in their everyday lives, and see how American Indians brain-tanned deer hides, the traditional way of softening and conditioning hides to make into clothing.

Rose Powhatan, a Tauxenent and Pamunkey Tribe member and teacher, will discuss the unique style of Virginia Indian totem poles. Powhatan made the totem pole on display in the visitor center and the poles on display at Jamestown. She will share other examples of her work.

Pottery, jewelry, flutes, dream-catchers, CDs, t-shirts, and other handmade crafts and original artwork will be available for purchase. Attendees can buy lunch to enjoy along the banks of the river. Hamburgers, hot dogs, kettle corn, ice cream, and French fries will be available.

Cool off in the visitor center and explore the permanent exhibit on display, Riverbend: A Rare and Rugged Refuge. Illustrated panels interpret the park’s geologic and anthropologic history. Learn about how the river has changed the landscape over time and about the native people who have lived along its banks.

Roads leading to the park can become congested and parking will be limited, so arriving early is recommended.  Riverbend Park is located at 8700 Potomac Hills Street in Great Falls, Va. For more information, call 703-759-9018.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.