The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents the second annual Choctaw Days, a free four-day festival featuring music, dance, food, art and storytelling from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, June 20-23, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. See the full schedule at (insert link). This year’s festival theme, “Bringing in the Colors,” will emphasize a special tribute to Choctaw military men and women.
Each day will include traditional dancing, chanting by Brad Joe, flute music by Presley Byington, singing by the Johnson Family Singers and storytelling by Tim Tingle and Greg Rodgers. Booths in the Potomac Atrium will allow visitors to learn more about Choctaw moccasins, stickball, flutes, baskets, pottery, beadwork, weapons, food, language, Code Talkers and the tribal museum. Visitors will also be able to meet and talk to Choctaw Nation princesses of all ages and featured artists, including Theresa Morris, Janis McKinney, Jane Semple Umsted, DG Smalling, Eveline Battiest-Steele and artist/musician Paul Hacker.
Hands-on activities for children and families will include crafting beaded chokers and corn husk dolls. Fun Choctaw airbrush tattoos will also be offered. Free timed tickets will be available daily; programs will commence each day in the third-level classroom at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Olin Williams will present a history of stickball at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. A stickball demonstration will also be offered on Thursday and Friday at 6:15 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol’s Reflecting Pool lawn. Stunning Choctaw horses will also be on display Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the park across from the museum on Maryland Avenue.
Food demonstrations on Thursday and Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Outdoor Amphitheater will feature tribal food experts, and the museum’s Mitsitam Cafe executive chef Richard Hetzler will prepare traditional dishes like banaha, made with corn meal and similar to a meatless tamale, and tanchi labona, a stew of hominy and pork. Additional items such as fried rabbit, pumpkin stew, stuffed grilled leg of venison and grape dumplings will be available for purchase in the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe.
In celebration of the festival’s theme, “Bringing in the Colors,” the Rasmuson Theater will offer daily programs highlighting the Choctaw’s rich military history. Events begin at 11 a.m. and include Choctaw Code Talker presentations and films. The live production of “To Us It Wasn’t Code,” presented by the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Theater Department, will show at 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday with additional performances at 12 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Al Cherry will also deliver a special presentation Wednesday and Thursday on the Veterans Airlift Command.
For more information, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.
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