With the backdrop of Shore Acres Park along the Illinois River, Native Americans Speak will give residents a glimpse into the authentic culture of Native Americans Saturday.
"It's our signature, cultural, educational thing we do," said Adam Danner, president of 4 Directions Healing Foundation, a nonprofit group which educates the public at large about Native Americans and assists Native Americans in need.
Danner, a resident of Chillicothe and graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School, said the foundation had a good turnout in its first event last year and received praise from those who participated in the activities as well as those who observed.
"It's the only Native American cultural event of its kind in central Illinois," said Danner.
The uniqueness, he said, comes from the different tribes represented from all over the United States.
"To have this collection of these Native American people who have respect in the Native American world and their willingness to share, and they know how to present these things. There's really nothing like it around here," said Danner.
Without a reservation in the area, it is especially unique, Danner said.
Last year, visitors most likely heard languages they never had before.
Mel Grey Owl of South Dakota spoke briefly in his native tongue, Dakota, and then translated what he said for the audience.
Jamie Russell of Cherokee Nation Oklahoma ended the day with a concert, featuring tranquil solos with his flute.
He also sang and played the guitar, including a rendition of "Amazing Grace," which was sung on the Trail of Tears. The song is considered the Cherokee national anthem.
The event is the foundation's major event of the year, although Danner regularly speaks to groups throughout the year and makes trips to help Native Americans once or twice a year.
Admission is free and Danner said the purpose of the day is not to make money.
"We're giving our hearts — that's the general nature of our people. I just don't like putting a price tag on education," said Danner.
Visitors can donate to the foundation or become members if they would like. Membership begins at $10 up to $500.
Most all of the speakers or participants are returning, as well as a few new faces.
"The same things people enjoyed last year they'll be able to enjoy this year," said Danner.
A special emphasis this year is placed on activities for children throughout the day, but there will be special children's activities when the main stage is geared more for adults.
From 11 a.m. to noon and 1-2 p.m., children's activities include Native American games, songs, crafts and storytelling.
"It's an unbelievable way for kids to learn," said Danner. "It's just such a unique way for everyone to learn."
Page 2 of 2 - Because each tribe has variations or different ways of doing things, the leader of the drum and dance demonstration, storytelling and other activities will share differently than the previous year.
Food will be available around lunch time, including frybread tacos. Vendors will sell their wares that day, including crafts and jewelry. Visitors are welcome to come and go throughout the day.
The event will be in the north part of the park like last year. Limited seating will be available. Residents are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair. In case of severe weather, the event will be at Illinois Valley Central High School.
Helping to make the event possible is the Committee on Native American Ministries, a Methodist conference committee assisting with financial support and travel expenses, and the Chillicothe Park District for the use of Shore Acres Park. The Boy Scouts also will help hand out programs and assist with parking that day.
The foundation also is working on a school curriculum for students in preschool through college. The goal is to show the culture of Native Americans in a respectful way, Danner said. The curriculum is expected to be available this fall and will be a work in progress.
For more information about the event, see www.4directionshealing foundation.org or call 635-0659.
IF YOU GO
Native Americans Speak
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Shore Acres Park in Chillicothe
10-11 a.m. — Storytelling (Fred Shaw and Jo Lakota)
11-11:20 a.m. — Speakers Adam Danner, foundation president and Lionel Little Eagle, foundation vice president
11 a.m.-noon – Kids’ time (side location)
11:20 a.m.-noon — Lionel Little Eagle (pipe ceremony), Tom John (prayer)
Noon-1 p.m. — Jamie Russell (concert)
1-2 p.m. — Time with our Elders: Mel Grey Owl, Randy Tuttle, Gary Billiot, Phyllis John
1-2 p.m. — Kids’ time (side location)
2-3 p.m. — Drum/Dance Demonstration (Spirit of the Rainbow Drum, Jimmy Lakota, Dennis Weaver)
3-4 p.m. — Open Dancing/mini powwow (Spirit of the Rainbow Drum)