Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 8, 2014

Learning native ways: Wolf Creek Indian Village hosts fun, educational Family Day

BASTIAN, Va. — As visitors left the museum and followed a forest path leading to the village, the nearby drone of highway traffic and other 21st century sounds grew fainter while the drumbeats and chants of a bygone era grew stronger.

Family Day at the Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum gave visitors the opportunity to visit its replica of a Native American village and learn more about skills similar to the ones the region’s original inhabitants used, said General Manager Rachel Looney.

“It’s a day where we bring in demonstrators of native skills like flint knapping, fire making and hide tanning,” she said as men in full Native American regalia danced to a steady drumbeat produced by the Red Fire Group from Pulaski, Va.

“Do you want to dance yet?” Jeff Kemp of Bristol, Tenn., a representative of the Warriors of the Different Nations, asked the audience. Several children were coaxed into the field and the adults soon joined the dance.

Phobe Davidson, 10, of Summers County thought that living the way the Native Americans lived hundreds of years ago would be interesting.

“Yea, it would be pretty interesting, trying to find all the things you needed to survive,” she said after the dance. “It would be pretty hard because you would have to find things to make houses with, find food and stuff.”

Other dancers with the Warriors of Different Nations spoke to visitors about Native American beliefs and the importance of wildlife ranging from eagles to dragonflies.

“Bless the four legged, the two legged, and the winged brothers,” Emerson Begay of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation told visitor Talia Wight of Morgantown.

Wight had recently visited the New River Gorge in Fayette County with her husband, Eddie Maier, and their children, 2-year-old Zuri and 5-year-old Zealon. She had seen dragonflies at the river. At first, she thought they were dead, but they were actually new dragonflies that had just emerged into their adult form. Begay told her that a cross shape representing the dragonfly is often seen in Native American art.

At a nearby shelter, Jeff Payne of Bristol, Va., was showing visitors the art of knapping, the skill needed for form arrowheads from flint and other minerals. A little boy picked up a stone Payne had been using.

“Now that’s sharp. You don’t want to pick that up,” he advised the boy.

Some of the arrowheads Payne had on display were made from beer bottle glass and even the porcelain from toilets; as a joke, such material is dubbed “thunder chert” and “john stone.” Native Americans who didn’t have access to flint often turned to glass for their arrowheads.

Another item Payne showed the visitors was the Southeast Indian River cane blowgun. Unlike their South American counterparts, these blowgun darts were not poisonous. Small children used them as a weapon for hunting small game like rabbits and squirrels.

The children would shoot these animals while protecting cornfields, then take them home for dinner, Payne said.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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