The Butts County Historical Society hosted its 30th annual Indian Springs Native American Festival and Powwow Saturday and Sunday.
The event is held each year on the grounds of the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum, which is operated by the Historical Society.
The head man and head lady of the weekend’s event, positions of honor during the festival, were husband and wife Rick and Bernice Bottchenbaugh of Cherokee, N.C., where they are involved with the Eastern Band Cherokee.
The arena director, who is charged with organizing performers demonstrating various traditional Native American dances around a small fire in the dance circle, was G.T. Martinez, who is of Creek, Cherokee and Apache descent. Originally from Texas, Martinez has been involved in Native American issues in Georgia since 1968. He is also among the organizers of the festival and is a board member of the Butts County Historical Society.
Flute player and hoop dancer Lowery Begay served as master of ceremonies.
Reading from a welcome message in the event’s program, Begay noted the nearby spring, the waters of which were believed to have healing properties.
“The spring ... has been known to the Native American people long before this area was settled by the Europeans,” Begay said. “This was the crossroads where the old Native American and stagecoach trails crossed so that travelers could stop and savor the mineral water. We hope that you will enjoy the festival and powwow as we come together to celebrate this long tradition in the Native American community. It is one of friendship, cooperation and unity between all peoples of different backgrounds and beliefs that share this land.”
Butts County Historical Society President Frankie Willis also welcomed attendees just prior to the grand entry on Saturday, which kicked off an afternoon of traditional native dances.
“I just wanted to take a minute while they’re organizing to welcome you and say, on behalf of the Butts County Historical Society, how thankful we are,” Willis said.
In addition to traditional music and dancing, the festival included food, vendor booths and demonstrations of the atl-atl, a kind of spear, and flint knapping techniques used to fashion spear points and tools.
The festival site, the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum, was constructed by Chief William McIntosh Jr. and his cousin, Joel Bailey, in 1823. The museum was open for tours during the festival.
McIntosh Jr. was the son of a Scottish father and Creek mother, and became a leader of the loosely aligned Lower Creek villages of the time.
He later signed the 1825 treaty that ceded Creek land to the state of Georgia, and was killed on his Carroll County plantation, likely in an act of revenge by rival Creeks.