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‘Celebrating 6,000 years’: Catawbas bring back traditional festival

Celebrating thousands of years: Catawbas bring back traditional festival

The Catawba Indian Nation brought back its Yap Ye Iswa Festival Saturday after a decade-long hiatus. The festival celebrates 6,000 years of existence for the Catawbas.
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The Catawba Indian Nation brought back its Yap Ye Iswa Festival Saturday after a decade-long hiatus. The festival celebrates 6,000 years of existence for the Catawbas.

Just before the Canoe Dance, a little girl dressed in a baby pink outfit danced with women of her tribe — the Catawba Indian Nation.

The pink fringe on the hem of the girl’s dress moved to the beat of the drummers.

The Catawbas held the Yap Ye Iswa, or Day of the Catawba, Festival Saturday at the reservation after a 12-year-hiatus of the event.

“This is a day set aside just for Catawba culture, the Catawba Nation, the Catawba people from 6,000 years of existence,” said Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris.

The festival dates back to 1990 as a way to connect the tribal and non-tribal communities with the Catawba Indian Nation. Visitors witnessed Catawba Nation’s culture through performances by drummers and dancers, pottery demonstrations, guest speakers and guided tours on a nature walk.

Vendors sold artwork, dream catchers, homegrown vegetables and baskets.

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.

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Tracy Kimball is a visual journalist for The Herald, covering York, Chester and Lancaster counties. She has worked at The Herald for 11 years. She graduated from Winthrop University and has lived in Rock Hill for 20 years.

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