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Posts Tagged ‘Native Americans’

A free family festival celebrating Native American culture in Raleigh, holiday decoration making in Elizabeth City and a mini-symposium on the Constitution in Fayetteville are just of the few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Here are eight suggestions to get you started:

1. The 19th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, featuring craft demonstrations, storytelling and traditional dance performances, Saturday at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

2. A unique lecture and storytelling performance celebrating the life of organist Mary Calvin McIntyre Thursday at Tryon Palace in New Bern.

3. Schubert’s Death and the Maiden as re-imagined by a quartet of N.C. Symphony musicians and visionary artist and producer blursome Thursday at Kings in Raleigh.

4. A lunchtime movie that highlights the commercial fishing families of the Core Sound region Thursday at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

5. Holiday decoration making Saturday at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.

6. The debut of a film on the race to the save the Cherokee language Friday at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

7. Saturday and Sunday family-friendly tours of the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh, focusing on the themes of food and family traditions.

8. A mini-symposium on North Carolina and the U.S. Constitution hosted by the Museum of the Cape Fear at the Cumberland County Public Library Saturday in Fayetteville.

Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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Secretary Kluttz and Town Creek Indian Mound Site Manager Rich Thompson climb the mound at the Town Creek Indian Mound

Secretary Kluttz and Town Creek Indian Mound Site Manager Rich Thompson climb the mound at the Town Creek Indian Mound

There aren’t many places in North Carolina—or the country, even—where you can see the power of archaeology more than at Town Creek Indian Mound in Montgomery County.

Archaeologists led by UNC’s Dr. Joffre Coe began working on the site in the late 1930s, and it’s through Coe’s lifelong commitment to the area and to Native American archaeology that Town Creek was able to open as North Carolina’s first state historic site in 1955. It’s also because of Coe’s efforts that the site now has reconstructed buildings that show what the area would have been like for the Pee Dee civilization thousands of years ago.

Secretary Kluttz helps cut the cake for Dr. Coe's birthday birthday party

Secretary Kluttz helps cut the cake for Dr. Coe’s birthday birthday party

Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz joined site staff and dozens from the community last month to celebrate what would’ve been Coe’s 98th birthday if he was still alive. After cutting a cake and enjoying a piece with local scout and 4-H groups, the Secretary toured this unique site. She especially enjoyed seeing the cutaway walls which many of the buildings have to help visitors see how the Pee Dee Indians would’ve originally built them.

One of the most exciting discoveries that Secretary Kluttz learned of while at Town Creek is that the work isn’t finished yet. Researchers from North Carolina universities are still excavating areas of the site, and they‘ve just recently uncovered some new buildings.

If you haven’t yet been, Town Creek Indian Mound is certainly worth a visit. Located about an hour and half from Raleigh, Fayetteville, the Triad and Charlotte, the site is an easy drive from just about anywhere in Piedmont.

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In a state so rich in American Indian history it should be no surprise that there are prehistoric rock carvings in the mountains.    Next time I am near Cullowhee, I plan to use the modern highway (and some less modern back roads) to see Judaculla Rock.

Judaculla is the anglicized pronunciation of Tsul Kalu, who was a legendary giant considered by the early Cherokees to be master of all game animals.  The large soapstone Judaculla Rock has glyph carvings that date from about the year 500 on up to the 1700s. As recently as the late 1800s, Cherokees held ceremonies there.  In the 1930s the Parker family, who owned the land prior to donating it, filled the carvings in with chalk so that the images would show up better.

Judaculla Rock as seen in the 1930s when the Parker family filled the carvings with chalk. Image courtesy of the North Carolina State Archives.

In 2007 the rock underwent extensive study and conservation. At that time the archaeologist and rock art specialist who completed the work declared that Judaculla’s petroglyphs are the most extensive and complicated of any found east of the Mississippi.

The rock, and a one-acre parcel of land surrounding it, is now owned by Jackson County. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee has partnered with the county to protect the sacred site and to erect interpretive signage in English and Cherokee.    There is an observation deck, and the site is open, free of charge, during daylight hours.  A map and directions can be found here.  There is also a Highway Historical Marker about the rock.

The idea of an object so primitive that still exists in our modern landscape strikes me as extraordinary.  If you do an internet search for Judaculla Rock, you will find all sorts of interesting stories and theories.  While we may never know the meanings of the carvings, it is incredible to see them and ponder their significance.

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