Ocmulgee festival highlights native cultures and history of monument site

Arts / Article

At one of the many encampments on display, a man demonstrates how to make fire using yucca wood and a stringed bow. Photo courtesy of Stacey Harwell

Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16, Ocmulgee National Monument held the 21st annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration. More than 200 native people gathered to share their culture and history through dance, storytelling, music, art and demonstrations. Thousands of visitors were on hand to enjoy the annual event at the monument, part of the National Park Service. Along with crafts, jewelry and pottery, visitors could also enjoy native foods, such as Indian tacos, fry bread, buffalo burgers, roasted corn and more.

This woman demonstrates a competitive dance style known as “Women’s Fancy” featuring highly-decorative costumes.

According to the National Park Service, the Ocmulgee National Monument is a memorial to the relationship of people and natural resources. Native Americans first came to the banks of the Ocmulgee River during the Paleo-Indian period while hunting for Ice Age mammals. Over the years, many different cultures occupied the area known today as the Macon Plateau. The mounds preserved at Ocmulgee National Monument were constructed near 900 C.E. by the Mississippian culture. The history of the lands around Macon have long been tied to the Ocmulgee River which runs through Bibb County down through the center of Georgia to join the Oconee River forming the Altamaha River. Even today, discussion of revitalization and economic development efforts in Macon are often centered around the river as the area’s greatest natural resource.

Children learned how to make pottery, which has been an important part of life on the banks of the Ocmulgee River for thousands of years.

The Ocmulgee Indian Celebration is one of the most well-attended and widely recognized events in Macon. It provides visitors with an experience enabling them to better understand the history of the area and of all Southeastern Native cultures and tribes across the nation.

Ocmulgee National Monument: 1207 Emery Highway, Macon; 478-752-8257