5 reasons you need to head to this free, family-friendly festival Nov. 20 at the Birmingham Museum of Art

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Native American Hoop Dancer
Lyndon Alec will be hoop dancing at the Native American Heritage Festival. Photo via Mike McCracken on Lyndon Alec’s website

Step into Alabama’s rich indigenous cultural legacy Saturday, November 20, at the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Native American Heritage Festival. This free, family-friendly festival is happening from 10AM-2PM that day. Keep reading to find out why you need to be there.

1. Sample Native American food

gardinski 5 reasons you need to head to this free, family-friendly festival Nov. 20 at the Birmingham Museum of Art
Juanita Gardinski will be making food you can try. Photo via Coffee County Conservation District’s Facebook

Juanita Gardinski of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw will be cooking and serving some tasty indigenous dishes, including fry bread.

You’ll often find her at Native American festivals around the state making food like this:

  • Buffalo stew and burgers
  • Indian tacos
  • Fish
  • Roasted corn

Whatever she makes is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and you can try some for yourself at a low cost. Be sure to bring your cash or card for payment.

2. Listen to stories + watch dances

amyb 5 reasons you need to head to this free, family-friendly festival Nov. 20 at the Birmingham Museum of Art
Chickasaw storyteller Amy Bluemel will be at the Native American Heritage Festival. Photo via Amy Bluemel’s website

You’ll be able to see and hear dances and stories at the Native American Heritage Festival, offered by these folks:

Amy Bluemel

Amy Bluemel is a registered member of the Chickasaw Nation—she’s known and well-loved for her storytelling, artistry and dancing.

At the Native American Heritage Festival, she’ll tell three stories about real live animals you can see in the sculpture garden.

Lyndon Alec

Lyndon Alec dancing. Video via Moundville Archaeological Park

If you caught any of the 2021 Virtual Moundville Native American Festival, you may have seen hoop dancer Lyndon Alec performing. If you didn’t, you can see him at the Native American Heritage Festival.

Alec is a member of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe, and has been performing the hoop dance—across the US and the world—since he was 12 years old.

Mystic Wind Choctaw Social Dancers

Dan Isaac leads the Mystic Wind Choctaw Social Dancers—they’ll perform a traditional Choctaw Dance alongside the Southern Pine Drum Group.

3. Tour the galleries

While you’re there, be sure to catch two special exhibitions celebrating Native heritage from ancient to modern times: Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders and Voices So True.

My personal favorite was Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders, with its wide variety of contemporary art by Native American artists.

4. Make your own art

IMG 2435 5 reasons you need to head to this free, family-friendly festival Nov. 20 at the Birmingham Museum of Art
The art-making area at Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

According to Carey Fountain, Manager of Public Programs at the Birmingham Museum of Art, festivalgoers will be able to participate in a dot painting activity. This is inspired by Starr Hardridge, whose work you can see in the Moundbuilders exhibition.

5. See animals in the sculpture garden—presented by the Birmingham Zoo

Finally, the Birmingham Zoo will be bringing animals to the Museum’s sculpture garden. Amy Bluemel will be telling a story outside, with the animals, and there will be fun facts for kids to learn about the animals.

The Birmingham Museum of Art’s Heritage Festivals are sponsored by Medical Properties Trust. The Museum is grateful for the support of City of Birmingham’s District 8 and the recommendation of former city councilor Steven Hoyt.

Visit the Native American Heritage Festival at the Birmingham Museum of Art—Saturday, November 20 from 10AM-2PM. You can check the BMA out on their website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook, too.

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Sharron Swain
Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference
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