Native American festival celebrates veterans and first responders

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CHIPLEY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There are many festivals and other events on Memorial Day, but one non-profit organization in Florida celebrated the holiday with a blast from the past.

The North Bay Clan of the Lower Creek Muskogee Tribe hosted their annual Memorial Day Spring Festival over the weekend.

The festival was held at the Tribal Grounds near Chipley and honored all veterans, past and present, as well as first responders.

"These are the people that keep us alive, that make our country better and they serve us all, all the time," Tribe member James Bush said.

Many members of the tribe say the festival is an opportunity to teach children about the Native American culture.

"Most kids don't get to learn the full thing about Indians in school. They just have history class and learn a little bit about what they do, but they don't get to learn about everything," said Vince and James Clay, both 11 years old.

There were drummers, singers, dancers and vendors, all of which showcased Native American arts.

"I've learned that they use cane poles as walking sticks and flutes, so whenever they get tired of walking, they can play the flute and whenever they get tired of playing the flute, they can walk. I learned that you don't have to dress up to dance, because all you have to do is do it for God and talk like we're talking," Vince and James said.

Bush believes it's especially important to learn about the culture of the Native Americans who have served our country.

"Native Americans believe that this country is their country and will defend it 'til the death, and that's what we're celebrating, is that commitment to this nation," Bush said.

Tribe officials say they'll be hosting a similar event near Veterans Day in November.

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