Native Americans beat their drums - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Native Americans beat their drums

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November 18, 2006

Albany -- The annual Native American Cultural Festival is taking place at the Parks at Chehaw. It's a fun atmosphere, but it's also an educational event that gives people a peek into a part of America's history.

Some Native Americans say modern day Americans should know some things about their culture.

The first people in America experienced spirituality differently than many Americans do these days. Instead of church, they danced. They lived off the land making weapons from bones and their own clothing from animal skins.

Native Americans say it's important to educate others on their culture. They invite people to their pow wows because there are things modern day Americans don't know about their lives.

"You do have to leave home and leave your family behind, and it's really tough. Yeah, it's the hardest part for me. I miss my brothers, sisters, my mom and my dad," said Michael Ziegler.

Michael Ziegler is part of the Lakota Sioux tribe of South Dakota. His family stays on a reservation, but he moved away to live a life his people call the "White Man's World." No easy transition for any American Indian to make.

"When you're there you get free medical, schooling, stuff like that. But once they leave, we gotta pay for everything ourself," said Ziegler.

The struggles of American Indians are still present, and just one thing that people learned about at the cultural festival.

"It's important because we will know what it like back then, and I think that's pretty cool because I like history," said Connor Ellis.

To share this part of history with Americans is one of the most important things to American Indians.

"I get a lot of people coming up to me, especially non-Indian white people, Oh I'm sorry what we did in the past. That's the past. The people today didn't do it to us," said Ziegler.

"They always say what can I do to help you today? Well I say you showing up to these Indian festivals, these pow wows help the Indian people because you're showing support."

Those who came to the festival showed support of the American Indian culture and the role it plays in our nation's history.

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