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Stately Oaks to host Native American Celebration

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. will host its 29th annual Native American Celebration and Gathering on Saturday, at Stately Oaks Plantation, in Jonesboro. The event puts the spotlight on the Creek Indians, who once lived in the Southern Crescent.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. will host its 29th annual Native American Celebration and Gathering on Saturday, at Stately Oaks Plantation, in Jonesboro. The event puts the spotlight on the Creek Indians, who once lived in the Southern Crescent.

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Have you ever had one of those days when you just wanted to shoot something with a blow gun?

Once upon a time in Clayton County, the land was roamed by Creek Indians -- some of whom may have carried blow guns with them. The instrument was made using hollowed-out river cane, as the "gun," and privet hedges with feathers attached to them, as the "bullets."

It was a hunting weapon unique to the southeast, according to Ted Key, a Jonesboro-based historian.

"Indians in the southeast were the only Native Americans using the blow gun," Key said. "Tribes in the Northeast, or the Midwest, did not use it. It could only be found in the Southeast."

The Creek Indians, and their blow guns, will be feted during Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc.'s 29th Annual Native American Celebration and Gathering, on Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., at the Stately Oaks Plantation, located at 100 Carriage Lane, in Jonesboro.

Key, the organizer of the event, said it will include Native American games, food, and corn grinding, beading, finger weaving, rope-making, blow gun shooting and storytelling activities. He added there will also be a museum, in the plantation's Bethel School House, devoted to the history of Creek and Cherokee Indians.

"We're hoping to have a spirit woman, a Creek spirit woman [from Fayetteville], there as well," Key said.

Key said the festival began in the early 1980s as a school project, when he was a teacher at G.P. Babb Middle School, in Forest Park, as a way to raise awareness of local Native American tribes. He said he had noticed that his students knew about more famous tribes, from other parts of the country, but they did not know much about the tribe that once called the Southern Crescent area home.

"They knew all about the Seminoles, and the Iroquois, and the Sioux and the Navajo, but they only knew a little bit about the Cherokee, and nothing about the Creeks, and the Creeks are the ones who used to live in this area," he said.

Key said the celebration continues to have awareness of the Creek Indians at the core of all of its activities, and he and other organizers therefore try to keep everything as authentically Creek as possible.

"Even if we only have 10 people show up, I'll be happy because they'll leave here knowing more about the Creek Indians, and that's our goal," he said.

And, maybe they will pick up a thing, or two, about shooting a blow gun.