Thousands Celebrate Native Oklahoma Weekend

Between eight and ten thousand people are attending Native Oklahoma Weekend at the Miami Fairgrounds. It is a celebration of the nine tribal nations in Ottawa County.

"It's a way to help embrace the culture and the heritage of the tribes," said one of the event's organizers, Michele Bolton.

Channel 8 caught up with a wooden flute maker and performer. Michael Frerichs, 28, is a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe. He said he can spend as much time as 15 hours crafting a traditional native flute. He said making things by hand is traditionally native.

"You know, everything's supposed to be handmade to represent the Native American culture," said Frerichs.

Furthermore, he said most native flute performers he knows play according to emotion. He said he does not play written songs, but rather, plays the tones and melodies he feels in his heart at that time.

Along with musicians, there are plenty of shops, food vendors, rides, history lessons, and demonstrations.

Native Storyteller Sonny Glass told stories to the crowd to convey important cultural messages.

"There's not any difference in us, other than we have learned the cultures," he said. "We've learnt from others, and that's what we want everybody to do, is learn from what we have to offer. Native Americans have always been known, that we are the keepers of the land."

The event's final day is Sunday. Events begin at 11 a.m. There will be a native dance competition at 2 p.m. The day will likely end sometime after 4 p.m.