NORMAN — Despite Native American Nations playing a big part in Oklahoma’s culture, there are still misunderstandings about how they operate as sovereign nations. It’s an issue that is getting addressed in a big way during the first Festival of the Four Winds 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12 at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.
Ann Barnes, logistics planner for the University of Oklahoma’s American Indian Institute and a member of the Choctaw Nation, developed the idea some years ago that OU should sponsor a festival celebrating the arts and cultures of the tribal nations.
“We’re hoping to educate about and celebrate the 39 nationally recognized tribes of Oklahoma,” Barnes said. “An invitation was extended to all these tribes for a free spot to display anything they like such as their traditional dress, foods and fun activities.”
Instrumental in bringing this event to reality have been many others including Dr. Daniel Brackett, chairperson of the Jacobson Foundation Board of Directors and Chelsea Wesner, American Indian Institute program planner based in South Dakota.
The event is designed to appeal to both tribal members and those with no tribal affiliation who want to learn about this rich aspect of living in Oklahoma. Food vendors will be set up outside the museum and the art show will be indoors. There will be dancing, singing and other musical performances throughout the day. Cultural demonstrations such as storytelling, beading, jewelry making and flute playing will occur in museum classrooms.
There will be an art show and also activities for children including being given a “passport” for them to have stamped at each nation’s area. The Oklahoma Arts Council is a co-sponsor of the festival that will focus on traditional arts and crafts.
“The Jacobson House has provided a large role in coordinating arts activities for children,” Wesner said. “Native American films will screen throughout the day and there will be a People’s Choice award for the art show that includes both new and established artists.”