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Native American Pow-wow

Third annual festival at Butler Park
to benefit future cultural center

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (April 2006) – Bruce Brading is one of many who hope to establish a permanent repository for Native Americans in Carrollton. By educating the general public to a way of life Native Americans have known for centuries, Brading hopes to acquire funding for a huge resource center to be built on the grounds of Gen. Butler State Resort Park.
The Kentucky Center for Native American Arts and Culture Inc. has been in the works for several years. In an effort to produce funding, Butler Park will be the host site for the third annual Native American Indian Benefit Pow-wow. In addition to the park, the Circle of Wisdom Unity Conference Inc. also sponsors this event.
The benefit pow-wow will be held on April 29-30. Grand entry times are noon and 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday. New to this year’s pow-wow will be Grey Squirrel (Emory H. Perkins) of Georgia. He will set up five complete early encampments for display and demonstration.
No actual period artifacts will be displayed for fear of using grave desecration items, said Brading. Family heirlooms will be on loan as well as the display of modern replicas by contemporary Native American craftsmen. “We want to know the history, where the items came from and any family folklore stories,” said Brading.
A big draw to the pow-wow will be the Native American Indian Heritage Museum, or Mobile Museum. Brading said this educational tool has traveled to more than 40 libraries in the last two years. It has been to the Census Bureau of Kentucky and Indiana, and to countless university campuses.
On Feb. 10, while the Mobile Museum was set up at Northern Kentucky University, a milestone was reached. The museum has been visited by 50,000 people. This year’s pow-wow will also benefit the museum.
One entire wall of the Mobile Museum contains pictures of local Native Americans from the Carrollton community, he said. Brading would like to see the local community participate, in addition to more children in the weekend pow-wow. Plans call for a School Day program for next year.
Last year, the Native American Indian Benefit Pow-wow made enough money to donate more than $4,000 to the cultural center project. This year, the Carroll County Tourism board has contributed $6,000 in support of the event.
“The board is behind this project,” said Sarah Oak, tourism director. “Board members voted to approve the money. They can review grant applications and can approve or deny funding.”
The tourism board is supportive of the center project because of the economic impact this would have on Carrollton, said Oak. Members justified support based on the educational value and the way in which it would aid local businesses.
“It will be a new draw for the community,” said Oak. She hopes that when completed, the center will bring in people from neighboring states and school groups, to learn more about Kentucky’s vast Native American history.
Several grants are in the works by the center’s board members, but $18.5 million is still needed. After driving around the state of Kentucky in search of land on which to build the center, the group was given 86 acres at Butler Park. The property is the former Ski Butler lodge. The lease had been dropped on the acreage and the property was not being used.
Brading contacted then-governor’s wife, Judy Patton, for help. At the time, Patton was chairwoman of the Kentucky Native American Commission, a separate organization from the Unity Conference. Brading sat on Legal and Legislative Committees at the time he spoke with Patton.
Patton, knowing that there was a large amount of unused land within the state park system, suggested locating a piece of property with no designs for the future.
“The infrastructure was already there,” said Brading of the roads, water and electric hookup. The center would like to retain a natural, pristine atmosphere, although some areas are already developed.
Patton got the project accomplished and signed the lease along with her husband, Gov. Paul Patton. About a month after Gov. Ernie Fletcher took office, he held a press conference with the Kentucky Native American Commission and the center board and re-signed the same lease, said Brading.
Brading is thrilled to have all three signatures on the document and to have the pen that was used for this historical moment. He hopes to display the pen in a glass case once the museum opens. It was a tool of modern-day history in the making.
“This was the first time the U.S. government gave back to the Native Americans,” said Brading. Most states limit Native American history within the state boundaries, he said. This center “is not just for Kentucky, but is in Kentucky.”
Affiliated tribes that were indigenous to the state boundaries will also be represented in the museum. “Native Americans did not live by boundaries,” said Brading.
Carrollton was chosen because of its close proximity to many major highways. It’s centrally located and within the territory inhabited by Native Americans.
The first step is to tear down the former ski lodge. Brading would like to see public and private ceremonial grounds and a nature trail installed at the center.

• For more information on the pow-wow or cultural center project, contact Bruce Brading at (502) 532-7290 or Marty Martin at (502) 966-9049.

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