Westport River Daze

Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
event docks at Westport

Native American demonstrations to highlight festival

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

WESTPORT, Ky. (September 2006) – Anthony Redfeather Nava grew up with a strong sense of who he is. His father is from the Pascua Yaqui Nation from Arizona, and his mother is Keetowah Band Cherokee from Oklahoma.

Anthony Redfeather Nava

Photo provided

Anthony Redfeather Nava teaches children about
Native American culture
at schools and festivals.

For the past 16 years he has been teaching in the Louisville and southern Indiana area about native culture. Through the clothes he wears, the artifacts he displays, and the flute he plays, Nava said he “teaches about native culture from past to the present.”
Nava, 36, found his calling through teaching children after realizing the lack of knowledge about his culture in the area. The flute is an important part of this culture and he will be performing and demonstrating at the Lewis & Clark Commemorative Westport RiverDaze Celebration on Sept. 22-23.
Nava will be on hand both days to share his native culture knowledge. Friday’s events run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and kick off with a bison dinner and bourbon tasting at the Westport General Store.
At 6:30 p.m. in the Methodist Church will be a special presentation by Kentucky Humanities Council speaker Mark Sohn. Sohn will be speaking about “Food Along the Lewis and Clark Trail.” The Teakettle Restaurant will prepare period food. Bluegrass group Shades of Grass will perform at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s festivities lineup begins with a 7 a.m. registration for a 5K-run and 3K walk. A parade will be held at 10:30 a.m., and booths and children’s activities are ongoing throughout the day. Other activities include a horse shoe tournament, black powder demonstration by the Carroll County Blackpowder Shooters, Oldham County Idol and wagon rides.
Westport residents in period dress will give historic walking tours. One of the homes in Westport was part of the Underground Railroad, said event organizer Cindy Williams. There is a lot of history in the tiny town of Westport, “even though Lewis and Clark did not stop here,” she said.
When Elijah Craig obtained Westport as part of a 300-acre land grant in May 1780, Kentucky County was still part of Virginia. The Cherokee Indians had previously claimed this territory as part of their hunting grounds.
Westport is a river town, and the majority of Lewis and Clark’s travels were on the water, said Williams. The Kentucky Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, the Oldham County History Center and the Friends of Westport are sponsoring this event.
One more reason for celebration is the fact that the Westport Post Office will be celebrating its 190th birthday. There will be a photo display inside the post office and post cards containing historic images of Westport will be for sale. Visitors can purchase a postcard and have it stamped with a RiverDaze commissioned stamp.
Nava will have his Yaqui River Native Arts on display, which includes handmade wooden flutes, drums, dream catchers, beadwork, jewelry, and CDs he has recorded of traditional native music. Part of his program will include the Indigenous Peoples’ Sensory Museum.
Set up next to Nava’s display will be the Oldham County History Center booth. The history center has partnered with the Oldham County Conservation District and the Oldham County Public Library on a Leaf Scrapbook and Identification contest.
The first 20 kids to sign up are eligible for a free leaf collection packet, which includes a leaf collection notebook, a tree identification book and a copy of “Hoot” by Carl Hiassen. The history center’s booth will also feature information on how to identify trees and how Lewis and Clark learned about native trees when they set out on their journey.
Nava said, “I hope people walk away from (my) presentation with knowledge about the culture that I represent and also that I may have helped them to understand that my culture is not gone and hopefully dispel some misconceptions surrounding indigenous peoples.”
There are 318 languages among Native American tribes. Nava relies on his heritage to relate stories about his people and their history. Through story, music and dance he can reach audiences in a unique way that is sensory as well as visual.
Nava has dedicated his life to teaching others; his talent and educational programs speak for themselves. He is a 2005-2006 Showcase Artist for the Kentucky Center for the Arts, a Resident Roster Artist for the Louisville Arts Council, and a Roster Artist for the Southern Indiana Arts Council.
Nava often holds school children spellbound as he relates stories of how the first white settlers to America did not fight with the Native Americans, but rather learned ways of survival from them. When explorers such as Capt. John Smith and John Rolph first visited the shores of America, they did not have enough provisions to last through a winter.
What they learned from Native Americans served them well. They co-existed peacefully for a time, each relying on the other. Nava tries to dispel many myths surrounding the Native American culture and its antagonism towards white settlers.
“I love teaching children about my culture,” said Nava.

• For more information, contact Cindy Williams at (502) 222-4392 or visit www.friendsofwestport.org. For more information on Nava’s workshops and school programs, email: anthonyredfeathernava@hotmail.com.

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