Sumter tribe will celebrate heritage at Saturday festival

3rd Native American Indian Festival will be at Sumter County Museum

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 11/6/18

The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians will celebrate and share its heritage Saturday with the third of its Native American Indian Festivals. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. members of the tribe invite the public to learn about their culture and heritage …

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Sumter tribe will celebrate heritage at Saturday festival

3rd Native American Indian Festival will be at Sumter County Museum

Posted

The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians will celebrate and share its heritage Saturday with the third of its Native American Indian Festivals. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. members of the tribe invite the public to learn about their culture and heritage through demonstrations and exhibits at Sumter County Museum.

Tribal Council member Karen Hudson said Chief Ralph Oxendine and Chief George Truesdale will be present to talk to visitors to the festival, and "Chief Truesdale will demonstrate the sacred fire." Hudson said there will also be a traditional "smudging" for anyone interested. Smudging involves the burning of herbs sacred to the tribe, most often a form of sage native to the area, for the purpose of spiritual cleansing or blessing.

Other outdoor events include traditional drumming and dancing by the Edisto River Singers, who have performed at past festivals. Hudson said they will be "dressed in the full regalia of the tribe."

There will be face painting for children, as well as traditional Native American crafting lessons. Food cooked on site will include the staple Native American fry bread and barbecue sandwiches.

Inside the museum's McKenzie Hall Heritage Education Center will be several tables of artifacts from the tribe, and visitors can view and read the state's proclamation that officially recognized the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians in November 2013. For two centuries before the official proclamation, the Sumter Tribe was not recognized as white or black. Members of the tribe will be present to answer questions about their heritage and culture.

Years of extensive research, most achieved through studying census records, enabled the Cheraw Indians to establish their native heritage dating from the late 18th century. Hudson said there are "about 350 members of the Sumter Tribe, most, but not all of them, living in the Sumter area." She expects a large turnout from the tribe.

"A large crowd attended the last festival," Hudson said. "You don't have to be Native American to enjoy and learn from the festival. Everyone is welcome." Festival goers will also be able to enter a raffle for Native American gifts.

The public is invited to attend the Sumter Native American Festival presented by the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St. Admission and all activities are free to the public; however, there is a charge for food.

The festival is partially funded by a grant from Sumter County Cultural Commission, which receives support from John and Susan Bennett Arts funds of the Coastal Community foundations of S.C., South Carolina Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.