Tribal dances, artisans mark return of Catawba Indian Nation festival in Rock Hill

Catawba Indian Nation

After a 12-year hiatus, the Catawba Indian Nation is bringing back the Yap Ye Iswa, or Day of the Catawba, festival.

The free festival is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Catawba Cultural Center.

The Catawba Indian Nation is the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina. The Catawba Indian Nation’s reservation sits on about 700 acres east of Rock Hill.

Parking is available at the Catawba Nation Longhouse, 996 Avenue of the Nations, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1989 Reservation Road. Rides will be available from the parking lots to the festival site. No parking will be allowed on the road.

The festival dates back to 1990 as a way to connect the tribal and non-tribal communities with the Catawba Indian Nation. Participants will get a taste of the Catawba Nation’s culture through performances by drummers and dancers to authentic Catawba songs, according to a release from the Catawba Indian Nation.

The festival will highlight inter-tribal dances, traditional art by Catawba artisans, pottery and beadwork demonstrations and traditional Native American food, according to the nation.

“The return of the festival has created a revitalization of our culture in the community by recruiting old and new drummers, dancers and artists,” the release states.

Participants can enjoy long-leaf pine needle basketry, storytelling, flute playing and blowgun demonstrations. Guided walks will offer information on flora and fauna important to the Catawbas. Guests can tour special exhibits at the community archives.

Food, art and memorabilia will be available for purchase. Cash is recommended for vendors.

“The Catawba Indian Nation would like to invite and welcome members of tribal and non-tribal communities to celebrate our heritage with us and foster continued well-being with our local and global neighbors,” the release states.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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