Moundville Native American Festival Celebrates Ancient Culture
Ancient rulers and thousands of their subjects thrived in a city behind huge wooden walls that once surrounded the Moundville site. These prehistoric Native Americans farmed, hunted and fished. Their society recognized nobles by birth and praised the feats of great artists, warriors and holy people. Each year, descendants of this vibrant culture return, celebrating the South’s rich Indian heritage at the Moundville Native American Festival.
Repeatedly named one of Alabama’s Top 20 Tourism Events, the award winning Moundville Native American Festival is always slated for Wednesday through Saturday during the first full week of October. Located at The University of Alabama’s Moundville Archaeological Park, performers, artists, craftspeople and tradition bearers entertain and educate visitors about the rich culture and heritage that makes Southeastern Indians unique.
Portal to the Past
Visit the newly renovated Jones Archaeological Museum! State-of-the-art exhibits tell a story of the nobility who once lived at Moundville. Stunning artifacts, recreated scenery and a special effects theatre are all part of the new displays. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit Knotted Bird Gifts and The Black Warrior Coffee Company.
Art of the Craft
See pottery being pit fired or learn how Choctaws make rivercane baskets in the festival’s Arts and Crafts Arbors. See fire kindled by friction or talk with a world-class bowman as he carves wooden longbow. Native Americans and other experts demonstrate these and many other arts, crafts and technologies during the entire festival.
Watch experts shoot the bow and arrow or throw a spear 50 yards with the help of a stick. See how a hollow piece of cane can be used to blow a deadly dart at the festival’s Target Range.
Kids of all ages get firsthand experience in playing native games and making simple crafts in the Children’s Area. Play the ancient game of stickball, dress up like Southeastern Indians or throw an Indian football. Make a shell bead necklace or try your hand at Indian Twister. There’s fun for the whole family.
Visit the Archaeology in Action station to find out how scientists excavate and discover new things about the ancient Moundville people. Tour guides, stationed at Mound B, one of North America’s tallest earthen mounds, and at other strategic spots around the site reveal what we know about Moundville as well as researcher’s latest findings.
Rhythm of Life
The Native American Stage features renowned dancers, storytellers and musicians. Hear the heartbeat of native music as the drum pounds or the rattles shake. Find out why certain animals look or act the way they do. Listen to voices blended in haunting harmony or a flute sighing as it remembers the wind.
See the Point
Knapper’s Corner hosts stone toolmakers from around the country. Making spear and arrow points from rocks that break like glass, these artists reproduce ancient works as well as creating new works of art. See craftsmen demonstrate “flintknapping,” a fascinating technology used by humans worldwide before forged metal was invented.
Discover why the fur trade was so important to Indians in the late 1700s and early 1800s in the Living History Camp. Through sights, sounds and smells, this camp brings the past to life. Smell native foods cooking on an open fire, or hear an elder describe his journeys through the wilderness. Enactors are dressed in period clothing, their authentic camps filled with items suggesting a simple time gone past.
Trader’s Circle and Arts Market
Authentic handicarfts, artifact reproductions, art prints musical instruments, toys, clothing, books, jewelry and a wide assortment of souvenirs are all for sale in the Trader’s Circle or Arts Market. Some of the country’s finest artists and craftspeople are featured exhibitors. Don’t forget to check out Knotted Bird Gifts in the newly renovated Jones Archaeological Museum. There’s a gift for every pocketbook!
Food for Thought
The festival’s Food Court, located next to the museum, features a cornucopia of Native American food as well as an abundance of traditional festival concessions. Try an Indian taco, shuck roasted corn or a smoked turkey leg. Additional food is available at the riverbank near Knapper’s Corner.
Festival Admission (Oct. 5th-8th):
Adults: $ 10.00
Children: $ 8.00
Groups with Reservations: $ 8.00 per person. Teachers and bus drivers are admitted free with registered group.
Weekdays 9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Moundville Archaeological Park is a division of University of Alabama Museums. The park is located 13 miles south of Exit 71A on I-20/59 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama off of State Highway 69.
Learn more about other public Indian sites of Alabama and other ancient Native American civilizations that once existed throughout the southeastern U.S.