Education main aim of festival

LAWRENCEVILLE - Ryan Eddy's favorite story his father passed down to him is about the Douglas fir trees that grow in the northwest.

"When you come across them, you actually witness the majesty of these trees," Eddy said.

But when one comes across a seedling that doesn't seem to be growing as tall as the others, one might wonder what's wrong with the tree. Upon closer inspection of where this particular tree grows one will see that it allows sunlight to reach the ground, helping to give life to the tiny creatures that scurry about underneath.

"When you look at something and you think it's not right, it actually is right," Eddy said. "The seedling's imperfection creates beauty because it's able to let everything else live."

Eddy's father, the late Paul Eddy, grew up on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, where the stories of his ancestors were passed down orally.

A storyteller himself, Paul Eddy was founder of Voice in the Wind, an organization that presents educational programs based on American Indian cultures. On Saturday and Sunday, Ryan Eddy, along with his mother, Toadie Eddy, will continue his father's work to preserve and share the traditions of Native American peoples during an American Indian festival at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

"My mom and I have continued to promote this festival in my dad's spirit in the way he wanted us to in order to educate the public on the true Native American ways," Ryan Eddy said. "He wanted to educate the public about the American Indians because he felt they were the most misrepresented race of any culture."

Based on the principle of okiciyapo, which means "help each other" in the Lakota language, members of most, if not all, American Indian nations will gather together to share storytelling, music, arts and crafts, demonstrations and more.

"We have a circle out here that the dancers come into, and when we come into this circle, we all come together for one main purpose," Ryan Eddy said.

One of the highlights of the bi-annual festival is the grand entry in which a parade of dancers will enter into the circle for a dance competition. An emcee will explain the dances for the public.

A grand entry will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and at 6 p.m. Saturday.

For more information on the Voice in the Wind American Indian Festival, visit www.vitwind.com.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Voice in the Wind American Indian Festival

· When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

· Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville

· Cost: $7 for those age 13 and older, $4 for children age 5 through 12 and free for children 4 and younger

· For more information: Call 770-963-6522 or visit www.vitwind.com