From the minute you arrive at the 20th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, you will discover why it was named a “Top 20 Event” in 2015 by the Southeast Tourism Society. Experience the sights and sounds of this free festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. For all ages, the celebration will feature drum groups, hundreds of dancers in regalia, storytellers, craftspeople and others from North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes: Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw Siouan.

Marking its 20th anniversary, the American Indian Heritage Celebration will offer more than ever. Presenters from across North Carolina will share their heritage and culture, past and present. Look inside a longhouse model to see how Indians once lived, watch a hide-tanning demonstration, and marvel at presentations by tribe members. Hands-on activities will be available at every turn: play traditional Cherokee games, shoot a bow and arrow, make seed jewelry, go on a scavenger hunt, and more.

 “The American Indian Heritage Celebration has grown into a major event that brings together the state’s American Indians who are passionate about sharing their heritage,” said Emily Grant, who has organized the event since 1995. “This year we will honor 10 individuals or groups who have been a part of every celebration.”

During the event’s opening ceremony, Sacred Cedar Productions will present traditional Haliwa-Saponi music and dance. The beats of intertribal drum groups will follow.

The not-to-be-missed Call to Grand Entry takes place at noon, when each tribe will process onto Bicentennial Plaza for the roll call of tribes and organizations. At 1:30 p.m. Miss Indian North Carolina Savannah Baber (Lumbee tribe) and Brandon Locklear (Coharie tribe) will lead powwow dance demonstrations.  

Grab lunch from vendors. Get traditional American Indian foods, such as fry bread and stew, or try something different like Indian tacos or buffalo burritos.

For a schedule of all performances and presentations, visit or call (919) 807-7900.

On Friday, Nov. 20, from 7 to 9 p.m., join a screening of the documentary “Voices of the Lumbee,” followed by a discussion and question-and-answer session with Jason Hutchens and Michele Fazio, filmmakers and assistant professors at UNC-Pembroke.

Tickets cost $5 plus tax per person; free, children 12 and under with adult. To register and purchase tickets online, visit Or purchase tickets that evening in the Museum Shop. For information, call (919) 807-7979.

For information about the N.C. Museum of History, visit

The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh.

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