Historical Society presents Native American Heritage Program

Published 10:51 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in the Holland Room of Crosby Library, the Historical Society presented members and guests with a most informative program using visual arts and music, which allowed members to enjoy a Native American experience.

Barbara Acosta Perez delivered the introduction, giving a background on the Native Americans since the time of Columbus, who named the tribes Indians as he thought he was in India. Soon the numbers were decimated by diseases that were new to them. At that time there were about 200,000 of them residing east of the Mississippi River.

They loved their good times and had games of all kinds, such as playing ball, running races, dancing , feasting, hunting and fishing, telling stories and joining with neighboring tribes in exciting contests. They sang on occasions, but their music was coarse and rude. Betting and gambling was most common among them.

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They, like us, sometimes lost all their possessions when luck was against them. For the Indian youth his highest ambition was to be a great warrior. Their warriors fought savagely with bows and arrows, knives, hatchets and spears of stone.

The women understood the art of preserving skins and making fine leather. They made pottery from clay, baskets of graceful shape with beautiful designs. Because the men considered it disgraceful to labor, all these industries were at the hands of the women and she did all this while caring for her young. She was neither his companion, nor his partner; she was his servant.

All this changed when the Indians were relocated to the reservations. Some of the Indians resisted, and many in this area fled to the swamps and lived secretly or denied their Indian heritage. Perez requested that those of Indian heritage provide their information to the Historical Society  to preserve in their Historical Archives book.

Cecil and Susan Bennett, of Nicholson, displayed their ancient Indian artifacts, books, photos and baskets. Ernestine Thompson, of Native American heritage  from Lumberton, spoke on Indian attire and showed interesting facts about our Native American population.

A brochure “Recognizing and Rejoicing in our Indian Heritage,” written by Jean Hartfield, was given as a special handout to those in attendance. Hartfield spoke on her Native American heritage and showed the results of her recent experiment in obtaining dyeing agents from indigenous plants and lichen. Combining her lifetime interest in native flora and early man, Hartfield hopes to learn which natural dyes were probably used by Indians and pioneer settlers. Mary Joy Wylie Jopes, a resident of Pearl River County since 1942, spoke on her Native American Choctaw Heritage.

Clara Howard was another featured speaker who discussed plants, food and medicines used by the Indians. Mary Jim Weems, of Native American heritage and native of Pearl River County, spoke on the Indians of Caesar.