National Museum of the American Indian Celebrates Choctaw Days

June 15, 2011
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents Choctaw Days, a free four-day festival featuring music, dance, food, art and storytelling from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma June 22-25 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. See the full schedule at

Each day will begin with traditional dancing by the Choctaw Youth Dancers on the museum’s Welcome Plaza, including the Jump dance, Fast War dance, Stealing Partners dance and the Snake dance. Booths in the Potomac Atrium will allow visitors to meet and talk to award-winning beadwork artists Marcus and Roger Amerman,watercolor artist Gwen Coleman Lester, storytellers Tim Tingle and Greg Rodgers,basket-weaver Eveline Battiest-Steele, flute-maker Presley Byington and Miss Choctaw Nation, Kristie McGuire.

Hands-on activities for children and families will include grinding corn in a large mortar and wrapping it in small pieces of leather. Kids can handle a set of stickball sticks and toss a towa or hard small ball and watch stickball demos. In the third-level classroom, all ages are invited to weave a small basket, pinch clay into pots or string beads to make a necklace or bracelet. Free timed tickets will be available daily outside the door 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visitors can learn Choctaw words and phrases with a live language instructor in Oklahoma available via Skype in Room 4025 daily from 2 to 4 p.m. Food demonstrations on Wednesday and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the Potomac Atrium feature tribal food experts and the museum’s Mitsitam Cafe executive chef Richard Hetzler who will make traditional dishes like banaha, made with corn meal and similar to a meatless tamale and tanchi labona, a stew of hominy and pork. Additional items such as fried rabbit, braised venison and fried salt pork will be available for purchase in the Mitsitam Cafe.

On Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater, a theatrical reenactment of a traditional Choctaw wedding featuring more than 16 performers showing the courtship, ceremony and celebration will be performed. Four short films will be screened daily, including one about the Choctaw code talkers of World War I and a Trail of Tears documentary The Long Walk.

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