Monthly Archives: May 2016

26th Annual Native American Culture Festival


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is proud to announce our annual Native American Festival to be held Saturday, and Sunday, June 4th and 5th , 2016.   

This educational event provides the opportunity for our visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee.    The event opens on Saturday, June 4th, running from 10 am until 8:00 pm; and from 11:30 am until 6 pm on Sunday.   Most activities are held at Fort Watauga, unless it rains. In the event of rain the show will relocate to the Visitors Center.   On Saturday evening, a traditional campfire will be held at the far end of the meadow in front of Fort Watauga at 7:00 pm with several guest storytellers. 

This weekend long festival will feature traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, traditional Native American song and dance, Cherokee storytelling and legends, Native American flute, Cherokee language workshops, and craft demonstrations and sales.  

A unique feature of the Native American Culture festival is our educational/ demonstration area, located within Fort Watauga.  The dance circle is located in the center of the fort, where the popular traditional dance and drum performances take place.  In addition, flute music, storytelling, lectures, and so much more take place within the circle, which share native culture and history with our visitors 

The interior of the fort will also host a variety of excellent demonstrations, which include a children’s blowgun challenge, beadwork, gourd art, pine needle basketry, stone carving, Cherokee language, wood carving, flint-knapping, corn shuck dolls , native river cane flutes, pottery, and a replicated Cherokee cabin from the early 19th century with historical reenactors, Mark and Sherry Finchum.  

Just outside the fort, exceptional Native American arts and crafts will be featured, in addition to ethnic Cherokee food, and a Lakota Tipi exhibit. 

In our annual tradition, the circle will host several performances of Native American music, drum, and dance. The dancing demonstrations will include the Fancy Dance and Hoop Dance, the Jingle Dance, the Men’s Traditional, Grass and Straight Dances, and many more. All are invited to dance, so bring your regalia. Newly added will be a demonstration of 18th century Cherokee social dancing. The host of this portion of the event, Dale Cloer, makes his home in Cherokee, North Carolina. 

Our featured Cherokee dancers are internationally known hoop dancer Eddie Swimmer, Head Man Jeff Kemp, and champion powwow dancer Nikki Crisp! Eddie Swimmer has captivated audiences across the globe using between 36 and 42 hoops.  His accomplishments include a former World Champion Hoop Dancer title, performances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and in the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Dallas Texas as well as choreographing the Broadway show hoop dance for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Jeff Kemp has competitively placed in many powwows across the Southeastern United States for many years and has been the featured lead male dancer in a multitude of Native American Festivals.  He also participates in many educational programs for schools and community events. Nikki Crisp as danced across the world as well, and has been performing for over 20 years. Her talents also include traditional beadwork and authentic frybread cooking. Nikki Crisp will be providing food vending for this event, including her famous Indian tacos.   

Our 2016 featured storyteller is Freeman Owle. He is a noted lecturer, historian, and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and has traveled all over the eastern United States lecturing to various groups, which include churches, military units, and schools.   Freeman Owle has told stories and presented programs on Cherokee history and culture throughout the Southeast for more than ten years.

Well known in the Cherokee community, Freeman Owle serves on the board of directors of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and is a coordinator for the Cherokee Heritage Trails project of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative. He is one of the featured storytellers in the book Living Stories of the Cherokee, and he also appears in the video documentary Cherokee: The Principal People, which aired on public television in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Daniel Bigay of Greeneville, TN will entertain with traditional flute music in addition to having his handmade, traditional Cherokee style flutes for sale. Daniel is a flute maker, Artist, Performer/Recording Artist, and demonstrator, who lives with his wife, Kay, in the mountains of Tennessee.  He has released two CD’s, the most recent being nominated for best flute recording at the 2005 Indian Summer Music Awards.  Daniel and Kay are passionate about education and sharing of the Cherokee culture in the school system, at Pow-Wow’s, and various shows and festivals. 

Admission is $5.00 per adult, $1.00 for children. All proceeds from admissions go to Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic  Park, to support this event. This event is made possible by the support of Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, the DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Comfort Inn of Johnson City.  


For information contact 

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park 

(423) 543‑5808.



Siege of Fort Watauga

Schedule of Events

S A T U R D A Y, M A Y  21st

10:00     Camps Open. Raising the Colors & Militia Inspection (Fort Watauga)

10:30     Making an Oil Cloth: Sgt. Simerly (Fort Watauga)

11:00     Cameron: Film preview & presentation: Nadia Dean, author of A Demand of Blood    (Meet in the Visitors Center)

11:30     Colonial Games with Miss Kay (Fort Watauga)

12:00     18th Century Music: Smith Brothers (Fort Watauga)

1:00       Battle Reenactment: “Siege of Fort Watauga – Part 1”

All visitors must move behind the viewing line 15 minutes prior to battle start time.

2:00       Field Musick: Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums (Fort Watauga)

2:30       Kids Militia Drill (Talbot’s Meadow – in front of Fort Watauga)

3:00       Auction (Visitors Center Gathering Place)

4:00       Salt Making on the Frontier : Mr. Jim Boardwine (Fort Watauga)

5:00       Camps Close. Please join us tomorrow for another exciting day of living history!


S U N D A Y, M A Y  22nd

10:00     Camps Open. Raising the Colors & Militia Inspection (Fort Watauga)

10:30     Worship Service (Fort Watauga)

11:00     Salt Making on the Frontier : Mr. Jim Boardwine (Fort Watauga)

11:30     Kids Militia Drill (Talbot’s Meadow – in front of Fort Watauga)

12:00     Colonial Games (Fort Watauga)

1:00       Battle Reenactment: “Siege of Fort Watauga – Part 2”

All visitors must move behind the viewing line 15 minutes prior to battle start time.

1:30       Field Musick: Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums (Fort Watauga)

2:00       Proper Women’s Clothing of the 18th Century (Visitors Center “Gathering Place”)

2:30       Militia Drill (Talbot’s Meadow – in front of Fort Watauga)

3:00       Retiring the Colors (Fort Watauga) Event Closed. Thank you for coming!

22nd Annual Siege of Fort Watauga

IMG_2863On Saturday, May 21st and Sunday, May 22nd, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will host nearly 200 living history re-enactors for the annual Siege of Fort Watauga. Colonial, British, and Native re-enactors will converge at the re-created Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals to relive the days when America’s first frontier was the land beyond the blue ridge.

 The Siege of Fort Watauga is a live retelling of the Cherokee attack brought on the settlers of the Watauga valley in the summer of 1776. At Sycamore Shoals, Fort Watauga offered protection to nearly 200 settlers during a two-week siege led by Cherokee War Chief, Old Abram, and 300 warriors.

Sycamore Shoals will once again be the scene of war during the Siege of Fort Watauga. The event lasts from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, May 21st and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 22nd. Step back in time as you visit the fort, militia camps, British IMG_2846encampment, and Native camp. Be immersed in 18th century frontier life as you witness daily aspects of colonial culture. See the clash of two cultures as the attack on fort Watauga is recreated both days at 1:00 pm. Also, attend our auction of 18th century reproductions on Saturday.

This year we are excited to welcome author, journalist, composer, and film producer Nadia Dean as our guest speaker. On Saturday, May 21st at Nadia Dean11:00 am Dean will be speaking about, and previewing her film Cameron.

“Alexander Cameron–married to a Cherokee—soon finds himself in conflict with southern colonists who are in rebellion against the king. The Cherokees are likewise forced into divided loyalties between the British and colonial rebels. Nadia has at last given a voice to Cameron and the Cherokee warrior Dragging Canoe” (Ila Hatter, Appalachian author).

The film is based on Nadia Dean’s latest book A Demand of Blood – The Cherokee War of 1776. The books are available in the Sycamore Shoals Gift Store, and there will be an opportunity to have your book signed by the author.

Also during the event take advantage of colonial merchants selling period wares in “Sutler’s Row”. There will be several vendors offering a myriad of 18th century reproduction items for the colonial enthusiast or the primitive decorator. Vendors this year include “Johnson & Moffet” specializing in hand crafted wooden items and herbal remedies, Trader Bob offering tanned animal pelts and hides, Ft. Vause Outfitters specializing in finished leather goods, and several other vendors offering everything from 18th century reproduction clothing, weaponry, and original antiques, to replica housewares and military accouterments.

Several Revolutionary War living history units will be in attendance and will make the 18th century come to life during the weekend. Units include the 1st Maryland based in Hendersonville, NC, Musgrove’s Mill Militia and the South Carolina Rangers based in upstate South Carolina, and two British units; the 42nd Light Infantry and the North Carolina Highland Regiment. The host unit is the Washington County Regiment of NorthSiege of Fort Watauga Carolina Militia based at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. Numerous individuals also participate in the event portraying many 18th century walks of life including Cherokee Natives, Backcountry Hunters, Farmers, Housewives, African Slaves, Commoners and Gentry.

For more information on this and other exciting events at Sycamore Shoals please contact the park at 423-543-5808 or visit the park’s website at Bring the entire family and see how your ancestors played a crucial role in our region’s history and in the formation of our nation. Hear the rattle of muskets, smell the campfire smoke, and see the 18th century come to life at the Siege of Fort Watauga. This event is sponsored by The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia and Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Ave. Elizabethton, TN 37643

Ph. 423-543-5808