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All Nations Gathering

Native American culture on display

The Gathering enters its
ninth year at Westport Commons

WESTPORT, Ky. (September 2014) – Glenda McGill grew up knowing she was part Native American and wants to share that culture with others. For the last eight years, she has been instrumental in organizing the All Nations at Westport Gathering to educate the public about things not learned through history books in school.

Jeff Hatmaker

Photo provided

Jeff Hatmaker will
lead the events at the
Sept. 20-21 festival.

After being encouraged by Westport resident Kathy Hockersmith, who had her own deep love for history, McGill decided to institute a festival that would bring light to the Native American lifestyle. She chose Westport because she lived there at the time and the tiny town “seemed like the perfect place to have it.”
The result is the All Nations at Westport Gathering, planned this year for Sept. 20-21 at the Westport Commons, 6700 W. Main St. (East Hwy. 524). Hours for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The story of the Native American peoples in Kentucky dates back to prehistoric times. It is known they were in and around Westport and were active along the Ohio River.
McGill said the town of Westport is a very old town, first known as Liberty. “It was a thriving town at one time,” she said. “It used to be the county seat.”
McGill’s ancestry consists of a mix of Cherokee, Shawnee, French, Irish and Scottish bloodlines. “I’m Native American from my dad’s side, from his grandmother’s line” she said.
This line of her family, which married into the Native American culture, extends back to Austrian roots. Her family migrated from there to Switzerland and eventually to America, from Pennsylvania to Kentucky. “My seventh great-grandfather was half Delaware and French.”
At the All Nations at Westport Gathering, McGill said spectators can “learn a wealth of information first-hand.” Vendors and elders will be present to try and help people learn how to make dream catchers, jewelry and leather goods, and demonstrate flint knapping and tomahawk throwing.
Storytelling is a very important component to the Native American way of life. There will be several storytellers traveling quite some distance from out-of-state to perform, said McGill.
Music, dance and drumming will all be part of this gathering. Some say the drum carries the heartbeat of the Indian nation; others refer to it as carrying the heartbeat of Mother Earth, calling the spirits and nations together.
The Grand Entry for both days is 1 p.m. Spectators can witness the flags and eagle staffs representing nations, families and communities of the host and visiting tribes as they are brought in, followed by veterans. It is usually at this point that Arena Director and Master of Ceremonies Jeff Hatmaker will arrive.
Hatmaker, 52, said his job is to make sure a certain protocol is followed to ensure proper respect: everyone must rise, remove their hats and no pictures can be taken at this time. “I’m responsible for everything that goes on in the Sacred Circle,” he said.
Since learning about the All Nations at Westport Gathering, Hatmaker has participated almost every year. Originally from Cleveland, Tenn., he learned about his Cherokee heritage from his grandparents.
Different Native American tribes will be represented in this event. Most will be Eastern Woodland Indians, such as Cherokee, Shawnee and Iroquois, he said.
This event is “a very important reaffirmation of who we are,” Hatmaker said of his heritage. “It’s like a combination of the Fourth of July, Christmas and a family reunion when we all get together.”
Hatmaker, who lives in Paint Lick, Ky., has also participated in similar festivals or powwows held in Richmond, Corbin, Bardstown, Shepherdsville and Louisville. He said there will be many dances in which spectators can participate.
n Admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 8-12 and free for children under age 7. For more information contact Glenda McGill at (502) 222-5902.

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