Featuring presenters from across the West
The heritage of the original inhabitants of the Great Plains will be celebrated at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site on Saturday, October 20 during the park’s Native American Heritage Day. The public is invited to observe and, in several cases participate, in a host of activities including talks on Plains Tribal culture, art and dance demonstrations and workshops, and living history portrayals of trading sessions.
The park will be open from 9 am to 4 pm on October 20 with ongoing living history activities such as tipi life, trade activities, livestock use, adobe work, blacksmithing and an array of special programs. Experts on Native culture from Oklahoma, North Dakota, Oregon and Colorado will share their extensive knowledge, experience and skills with park visitors.
From 10 am to 3 pm, Michael Terry also known as “Bad Hand” will demonstrate and discuss his massive collection of Plains Indian regalia and equipment. Bad Hand is a Native American historian, lecturer, stuntman, replica maker and artist. His books include “Plains Indian Regalia and Customs” (sold in the Bent’s Fort park store) and “Daily Life in a Plains Indian Village 1868.” Bad Hand has appeared in and consulted on such films as “Dances with Wolves,” “Far and Away,” and “Geronimo.”
Award-winning artist George Curtis Levi, a member of the Southern Cheyenne Tribe of Oklahoma, will present art workshops at the fort from 10 am to 12 pm and again from 1 pm to 3 pm. The art and history of the Cheyenne people motivate him in his art. He specializes in ledger art, and also acrylic and watercolor paintings. Prints of George’s art are sold in the park’s store. The workshops will include the history and examples of ledger art, followed by having participants try their own hand at creating ledger art pieces that they can take home with them.
Loren Yellow Bird, a park ranger at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site in North Dakota and member of the Arikara tribe, will present a session on Plains Indian Culture at 11 am and a program on the impacts of trade on the Plains Tribes at 3 pm.
The Seven Falls Indian Dancers will perform in the fort plaza at 12 pm and 2 pm. The dancers are a family dance troupe representing four generations of dancers from the Pawnee, Flandreau Santee Sioux and Crow Creek Sioux tribes. They have been dancing throughout Colorado for nearly 30 years. The dancers present social and exhibition dances from several different tribes. The origins of the dances are explained with stories.
From 1 pm to 3 pm David Balicki from La Junta’s Koshare Museum will present his beadwork and will lead a workshop for visitors to create their own small beaded piece to take home.
“Native American Heritage Day at Bent’s Old Fort recognizes the integral role the Plains tribes played in the life of the fort,” said Park Superintendent Alexa Roberts. “The business of the fort was trading with the tribes. Without the tribes, the fort would not have existed. But more than that, William Bent and other fort employees married into the tribes, so they were not only customers, they were family. We hope everyone will join us on October 20th for a celebration of these vibrant nations that made the fort a great example of cultural collaboration.”
The park will charge a special event fee for Native American Heritage Day. The fee for this full day of activities is only $5.00 for visitors 13 and older and $2.00 for ages 6 to 12. Kids 5 and under are free. National Park Passes are honored for this fee. Fees will be collected at the fort entrance.
Lunch will be available for purchase at the park’s picnic area provided by Johnny’s Barbeque of Pueblo, serving brisket, green chile and a variety of lunch items. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnics.
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located on Colorado Highway 194, 8 miles east of La Junta or 15 miles west of Las Animas. For more information, call the park at (719) 383-5010.