Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Fort Smith Festival Features Five Tribes

A day of traditional native art, music and more may be experienced at the Five Tribes Culture Festival on March 3 at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

The special event is part of the city’s Bicentennial Celebration and showcases the rich and colorful cultures of the Five Civilized Tribes and their historical relationship with Fort Smith. 

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this event, recognizing the founding of Fort Smith, as we understand the shared connection to Cherokee Nation’s past,” said Travis Owens, director of Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. “Fort Smith’s story is complexly intertwined with the story of the Cherokee people, and we look forward to sharing our history and culture with the community.”

Cherokee demonstrations include pottery, painting, shell carving, beadwork and basketry.

Cherokee performances include the Cherokee National Youth Choir and Cherokee National Treasure Tommy Wildcat on the traditional flute. Guests are also invited to watch special screenings of “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” and explore an exhibit honoring Cherokee women who have changed the world.

The Five Tribes festival begins at 10 a.m. with opening remarks by Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders. The family-friendly event runs until 5 p.m. and features live performances, lectures and cultural demonstrations throughout the day. Guests can also sample traditional foods. The event is open to the public and free to attend.

“The bicentennial committee has been working with the Five Civilized Tribes Inter-Tribal Council and individual tribal leaders for several months to bring this incredible, collaborative event to the people of Fort Smith,” said Jim Perry, chairman of the Arts & Culture committee for the Bicentennial Celebration. “We are extremely grateful for their generosity and efforts to create this exciting and culturally rich experience for our community and neighbors.”

The Bicentennial Celebration year has been divided into four quarters, each with a different theme and corresponding events. The first quarter’s theme is Arts and Culture, which runs through April 2018. A series of events are being held to entertain, educate and enlighten area residents about the culture and lifestyles of Fort Smith throughout history. For more information about upcoming events, please visit

The Fort Smith Convention Center is located at 800 Rogers Ave.

For more information about Cherokee culture and Cherokee Nation historical attractions, visit

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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