The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is hosting its Living Earth Festival starting Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21. This year marks the fourth annual celebration of arts, music, culture, and food that are part of Native American traditions. The festivities are at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The festival offers a showcase of demonstrations on cooking, sculpture, dance, music, children’s games, beading, storytelling, and cheese-making. Workshops will be available for visitors in sculpture and goat cheese-making. Friday evening winds down in the Rasmuson Theater with dinner and a movie. Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West begins at 7 p.m. and is narrated by Robert Redford.
A panel discussion on the roles Native American professors and students have in addressing environmental issues will take place on Saturday, 2:30 to 4 p.m., at the Rasmuson Theater. Panelists will be from the Tribal ecoAmbassadors. This event is presented in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Saturday evening’s concert begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Potomac Atrium. Performers will be prominent Native American artists encompassing a variety of musical styles: Quetzal Guerrero, Latin soul; She King, rock with Six Nations vocalist Shawnee Talbot; Ozomatli, dance music Grammy Award winning group.
Sunday, at the Potomac Atrium, native music and dance begin at noon with traditional marimba music. At 1 p.m., the Pokagon Drum and Dance Troupe perform traditional and fancy dancing offered at many powwows throughout the United States. The last segment, at 2 p.m., is the traditional music and dance of Bolivia.
Sunday also offers a cooking competition between Cherokee Chef Don McClellan and Navajo Chef Freddie Bitsoie. This will be held at the Outdoor Welcome Plaza from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Their challenge is to prepare appetizers, entrees, and desserts using fresh, local meats and vegetables with blueberries. This competition will be judged by three chefs in the DC area, and will be emceed by the NMAI Mitsitam Cafe Chef Richard Hetzler.
Throughout all three days, the Farmers’ Market will be in full swing beginning at 10 a.m. Visitors can purchase locally grown food and have a chance to speak with the farmers.
The Living Earth Festival provides both an opportunity for Native Americans to share their crafts with others, and for visitors to see the various and substantial contributions Native Americans have made, and continue to make, to our world.
For a complete schedule of events and locations of the Living Earth Festival, please check the NMAI website below.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent