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Native American celebration slated for North Park

November 26, 2018

November is National Native American Heritage month, and North Park is celebrating by highlighting the park’s own Native American heritage with stories, displays and flute playing.

Lee and Earl Dingus will lead the event on Nov. 10 at the Latodami Nature Center.

Lee, a member of the Seneca nation, and Earl, a member of the Cherokee nation, created Echoes of the Four Directions more than 30 years ago and have given presentations at schools, libraries, museums, historical societies, businesses and even police departments.

“There’s much misunderstanding about Native Americans so we want to try to educate as many people as we can about the different aspects of our cultures,” Earl Dingus said.

Their presentation will include artifacts and displays, traditional stories from both the Seneca and Cherokee people and even Cherokee flute playing.

Much of the land in and around North Park was once occupied by members of the Seneca nation, Dingus said. There were small bands of Shawnee and Lenni Lenape, but most of them were driven out by the Seneca.

There were not, however, tribes of Monongahela, as children in the area were taught growing up, because there was no such thing as the Monongahela tribe, Dingus said. There were Seneca, Lenni Lenape and Shawnee people living along the Monongahela River, but they somehow were given the title Monongahela Indians in written accounts by non-native people.

“That’s a misunderstanding,” Dingus said. “When we were teaching Native American history at CCAC we told the students to forget what they were taught in school.”

People are surprised to learn many things about Native American culture, Dingus said, such as the fact that tribes existed up and down the East Coast and not just out west. Many people also don’t know that there are 565 tribes -- or nations -- in the United States today, and that while they share many similarities many have their own unique culture, language, dress, spirituality and traditions.

Registration is free but space is limited. Visit https://apm.activecommunities.com/alleghenyparks/Activity_Search/3158.

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