By Claire Stuart
Since the advent of organized agriculture, human societies have had one thing in common—they have given thanks for a successful harvest by celebrating with feasts, song and dance.
The Gathering, coming up October 30 through November 1 at the Clarke County Fairground, is billed as “An Experiment in Humanity.” More than just a harvest festival with food and music, it will be an exciting, educational, multicultural celebration, showcasing the cultures and contributions of Native American people and promoting friendship, community, volunteerism, art and sustainable living.
Rene White, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Native American, and tireless community volunteer, has been a driving force in bringing the Native American Church of Virginia Sanctuary on the Trail™ and the Virginia Lovers’ Gourd Society together to co-host The Gathering.
“Indian people are still living,” declared White, “This is about more than just how they used to live.”
There will beIndian dancers, storytelling and drumming, and living history demonstrations. There will be fun and educational programs for kids and teachers, gourd craft workshops, arts and crafts, displays, vendors, and a special tribute to military veterans and uniformed service members.
Several preview events will be held before The Gathering.
Right Now: Sign up early for gourd craft classes led by outstanding gourd artists, to be held at The Gathering. Visit the Virginia Lovers’ Gourd Society web site for details on the classes and instructors: vlgs.org
September 26, 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM: Smithsonian Museum Live Day at Clermont Farm
And Volunteer Day for The Gathering – Meeting 3:00-5:00 PM
In conjunction with the Smithsonian, a mini Harvest Gathering with a Native American drum circle, story telling, music and dance throughout the day. Tribal maps on sale. Guided tours of the slave quarters and main house.
Anyone interested in volunteering at The Gathering is invited to stay after the event for a meeting at 3:00 PM.
September 15 – October 1: Three Sisters Regional Art Challenge Submissions Due
Artists are invited to submit digital images for consideration for the art show and sale. In Native American culture, the Three Sisters represent corn, pole beans and winter squash (or gourds), grown together in harmony. The artwork does not have to depict the plants but can illustrate what three powerful things mean to you. Categories of media are practically unlimited (even including motorcycles). Artwork that is accepted will be entered in the Three Sisters Gallery Show and Sale in the Barns of Rose Hill, October 17 through November 21. Details are available on The Gathering web site: harvestgathering.org
October 17, 8:00 am-noon: Clarke County Farmers Market -Taste Test of Indian Frybread
Kim Ragland, owner of Boyd’s Nest Restaurant, will be demonstrating frybread, a skill she learned from tribal elders. Ragland explained that frybread is not a traditional Native American food. Instead, it originated of necessity in hard times, when Native Americans were forced from their homes to reservations and the government gave them meager food rations.
“They needed to make something nourishing,” said Ragland, “and the result was frybread. Various tribes had their own takes on it. Some deep fried it, some pan fried it, some sweetened it, some didn’t.”
October 17 Events at Barns of Rose Hill:
Three Sisters Art Show and Sale opens
2:00 PM: Documentary Film “It’s a Good Day to Die” and presentation by renowned Native American leader, lecturer, author and activist Dennis Banks.
Dennis Banks co-founded the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) in 1968 to call attention to the plight of urban Indians in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The film depicts his life and the rise and fall of the movement. Banks will be on hand to discuss the film and his life.
After the presentation, Kim Ragland will serve a 3-Sisters Stew with corn bread. She describes it as a traditional Native American dish from the marriage of corn, beans and winter squash, a healthy stew that provides a complete balance of protein and vitamins.
Evening – Indian “rocky soul” music, concert by Dark Water Rising.
Call for volunteers:
Rene White announced that volunteers and interns are needed to assist before, during and after The Gathering. Any strength, ability or talent you can offer will be welcome. Jobs vary from carrying heavy equipment, installing structures and lighting to hospitality, writing, filming and photography, graphic design and more. Donations of hay and pumpkins are also welcome. .
Visit The Gathering web site for information on volunteering and internships. harvestgathering.org