Saturday, December 28, 2002

Cherokee center asks Indian elders to speak

The Associated Press

MARION, Ky. - American Indian elders from across the country are expected to visit Crittenden County next year as guests of the Mantle Rock Native Education and Cultural Center.

The cultural center office opened in downtown this month. It's named in honor of Mantle Rock in neighboring Livingston County, where hundreds of Cherokees perished in the winter of 1828 while traveling the "Trail of Tears."

"We don't want to limit this to Cherokees and Cherokee teachings," said Momfeather Erickson, a member of the Mantle Rock Cherokees who moved to Marion recently from Omaha, Neb. "We're bringing elders in from all different nations to do speaking. We want the elders to feel welcome to come here, no matter who they are. We want to welcome the world to come."

Ms. Erickson, a native of eastern Kentucky, said the community has welcomed her group with open arms.

She hosted an open house at the center on Dec. 14.

"There was a huge turnout," she said. "The townspeople have been absolutely so encouraging and so wonderful. I've been so impressed. It's really been fantastic."

The center will be headquarters for "Turtle Tracks," an American Indian online newsletter for children, and Mantle Rock Publishing. Long-term plans include construction of a living village and teaching center.

"If someone teaches soap-making, flint knapping, or basket-making, they can put up their place and do it there," she said. "We'll also do children's crafts, storytelling, jewelry and all different native crafts."

A spring powwow and a fall festival are planned for 2003.

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