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Published: Friday, 10/1/2004

Native American celebration set for this weekend

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

While much has been documented about the history of Native Americans in the West, local vocal teacher Jamie Oxendine says there's more to learn about Woodland Indian culture.

"A good population of Native Americans in northwest Ohio are from Eastern tribes," said Oxendine, president of the Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Native American culture and history.

He is also a member of the Lumbee nation and teaches at Emory Leverette Junior High School in Toledo.

The Foundation is presenting its second annual "They Walked Here Before Us: A Woodland Indian Celebration" from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Buttonwood Park on Hull Prairie Road near Perrysburg.

The two-day outdoor event features Douglas Blue Feather, of the Cherokee nation, winner of the 2003 Native American Music Award for Best Flutist. Blue Feather is from Springboro, Ohio.

Oxendine, master of ceremonies for the event, said the celebration should attract some 5,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.

They will see two days of Native American dancing and singing.

"You'll see all different styles of dancers from all over the Midwest," Oxendine said.

Other highlights include vendors, a children's tent with arts and crafts that will open at 2 p.m. each day, a wildlife tent with American raptors and other birds of prey on Sunday only, and a living history Woodland Indian Village depicting life in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Authentic foods will include fried bread, corn soup, and Indian pudding.

Health screenings will be conducted from noon to 3 p.m. both days, Oxendine said, due to the medical problems like diabetes and hypertension that disproportionately affect Native American peoples.

Weather permitting, canoe rides will be offered along the Maumee River.

The Grand Entry, which on both days will begin at 1 p.m. and also at 6 p.m. tomorrow, will be led by head male dancer Brian Dreier, a Toledoan of Cherokee and Choctaw descent, and head female dancer Pam Medahko, of Onekama, Mich., who is of the Odawa nation. Accompanying them will be drumming groups Painted Turtle, of the Miami nation, and White Oak Singers, of the Shawnee nation.

"They Walked Here Before Us: A Woodland Indian Celebration" is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Buttonwood Park on Hull Prairie Road near Perrysburg. Grand Entry is at 1 p.m. both days, and also at 6 p.m. tomorrow. Cost is $4 for adults, $2 for senior citizens, and free for kids 5 and under. Parking for $1 will be offered nearby. All proceeds go to the nonprofit Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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