During the Indian Festival and Pow-Wow at Stone Mountain Park, Michael Stuckey teaches Ryleigh McClanahan, 7, and River Moyer, 7, about how to make pottery Friday afternoon. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)
STONE MOUNTAIN — Beth McClanahan was one of several chaperones at Stone Mountain Park Friday.
She and 27 kids from Hillside Montessori traveled from LaGrange, Ga. to immerse themselves in Native American culture during the annual Indian Festival and Pow-Wow.
“We’ve been learning about making pottery,” McClanahan said while watching her 7-year-old daughter and another student. “We learned about the arrow heads that are made out of fish bones, which was kind of cool. We also watched the Aztec dancing and birds of prey.”
The gaggle of children ran from activity to activity, learning about tribes, nature and a different way of life.
“I think they get to see what Indian life was like and that’s really neat for them,” McClanahan said. “These kids go to a Montessori school, so they learn about other cultures. Here they get to learn about it hands on.”
Brittany Comerford, another parent with the Montessori group, loved the event, since everything is hands on for the kids.
“They get hands on learning experience and actually get to see it,” she said while standing outside of a teepee. “When you can feel, touch, see — activate more of your five senses, the more learning takes place.”
Held at park’s historic Antebellum Plantation, the event showcases Native American culture through dance, music, authentic craft demonstrations, cooking traditions, storytelling, wildlife presentations and more.
On Thursday and Friday, more than 10,000 students — and young children — from around Georgia took field trips to the event as a learning experience.
“It’s such a great experience for my kids,” Lisa Benoit of Decatur said, who brought her 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. “They are still so young that they haven’t learned about Native Americans yet. This is my way to give them a little exposure to the culture.”
During the four-day festival, hundreds of Native Americans travel to Stone Mountain. The most popular events are the traditional dance and drum competitions where the sexes battle for the top prize in separate categories. Children are also allowed to enter.
On Saturday, all of the competitors come together for a grand entrance ceremony at 1 p.m. The different tribes can be spotted by the colors, feathers and materials worn on the traditional garb. Women typically wear bells on their outfits.
There are also other activities scattered throughout the festival. Attendees can learn about primitive skills such as flint-knapping, bow making, fire starting, open fire cooking and pottery. People can also crawl inside a tee-pee and other traditional native dwellings.
At four different times each day, there’s a chance to watch a live falconry flights in the lower meadow.
There are vendors surrounding the main stage and dance circle selling everything from colorful art work and hand crafted instruments to ornate dream catchers and beaded jewelry.
Tickets can be purchased at the Stone Mountain Park. The festival ends on Sunday.