What's different about this year's Native American Gathering at Amis Mill?

Jeff Bobo • Oct 3, 2017 at 9:29 AM

ROGERSVILLE — More than two centuries ago, Cherokee Chief Dragging Canoe visited the Amis Mill property near Rogersville frequently to trade with settlement founder Capt. Thomas Amis.

Dragging Canoe considered that his land and Amis a tenant, and in fact Amis was the only white settler the chief trusted enough to trade with.

Today Amis Mills is owned by a direct descendant of Thomas Amis, but this weekend the direct descendants of Chief Dragging Canoe will return to reclaim their land — at least for two days as they celebrate the second annual American Indian Gathering Oct. 7-8.

Last year the event was called a “Native American Festival.”

Event co-founder Stonewolf, a full-blooded Cherokee and member of the Kituwah band, said organizers decided to start calling it a “gathering” because that more accurately describes the event’s intent.

What’s it all about?

Stonewolf said, “The main thing is bringing all our people back together. We want all the American Indians, every nation, to be represented, to feel unified. We also want to share our culture and educate the children. We’ve got a lot of Boy Scouts coming, and members of the high school’s Navy ROTC will be there, and we encourage parents to bring their children to meet us and learn about our history and our culture. I think the kids are really going to have a great time this year.”

What’s different this year?

Aside from the name, the event will take place on two days rather than one. The gathering will run Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.

There will also be more performers and vendors.

Stonewolf said, “We’ve invited all kinds of Indians, and we’re going to have Navajo, Sioux, Cherokee coming from several different states. We’ve got five or six different tribes,and there will be at least 50 Indian performers or demonstrators that we know of.”

Brian Thunder Bear will bring a group of professional Native American drummers to perform throughout both days.

Navajo Lauri Lake, who often provides authentic cuisine at Native American pow wows, will be cooking fresh frybread and buffalo burgers. Frybread will be served by itself, as it was last year, or used to make “Indian tacos,” by adding grilled buffalo meat, lettuce and tomatoes.

Stonewolf’s brother Red Horse, who lives in Greeneville, will bring a full-size teepee that is 30 feet in diameter and uses 21-foot high lodgepoles.

“We changed the name to the American Indian Gathering because that sounds more like the Indian way. When you think about a festival, you’ve got set schedules for events throughout the day, and that’s not really our way,” Stonewolf said. “We want our people to have the freedom to mingle and talk to visitors. If you’re a dancer, for example, and you’re supposed to be a certain place at a certain time, they aren’t able to finish their conversations. We’ve told our dancers and drummers and everyone else, ‘If people talk to you, talk as long as you want to.’ That’s what this is all about. To educate people about American Indians.”

What’s coming back?

Storyteller Dancing Eagle will be performing and leading the Friendship Dance with children.

There will also be candy dances, with candy thrown into the dance circle for children, as well as blowgun demonstrations, and authentic handmade Native American weapons, tools, arts and crafts for sale.

Throughout both days, there will be drumming, dancing, flute playing, storytelling, authentic food, arts and crafts and lots for children to see and do.

Although there is no set scheduled for live entertainment, Stonewolf said if you decide to spent at least two hours at the gathering, you should have an opportunity to see each performance at least once.

“There’s going to be something going on all the time. When a dance or a drum performance ends, there might be storytelling or a demonstration going on. When they take a break, the drums will kick in again. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”

They're asking for $5 per vehicle for parking. You can pack as many people in your vehicle as you can fit. Stonewolf said the parking fee will pay for the addition of professional drummers, and cover other overhead expenses. 

The Amis Mill Settlement is located at 127 W. Bear Hollow road just south of Rogersville.