As summer rolls into East Texas, the folks at Caddo Mounds are preparing for their annual cultural celebration, Caddo Culture Day. On Saturday, April 14, 2018, the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is celebrating the archeological and cultural heritage of the Hasinai Caddo Indians.
The day-long celebration includes traditional Caddo music, dance and art, according to Caddo Mounds State Historic Site manager Tony Souther. Other activities include talks about Caddo culture, guided hikes, children's activities, exhibits by Caddo artists, and more. Cameras are permitted and lawn chairs and/or blankets are encouraged. Admission is free, but donations to the Friends of Caddo Mounds, Inc. are appreciated.
Song and dance hold an important place in the heart of this vibrant culture. During the Caddo Culture Day festival, dancers begin the “Turkey Dance,” a multi-verse performance recounting the history of the Caddo people. During the dance, women wear a dush-tooh, a colorful butterfly-shaped hair ornament made of ribbons and brightly colored fabric.
The Caddo are a fairly small tribal group with only 5,000 to 6,000 on the voting roles. Yet as a tribe, their knowledge of their traditional songs and dances are on par with some of the largest Native American tribes in the country. Most Caddo today live in communities in Oklahoma, but they make the drive down to East Texas to engage with their culture and share it with the local Texans.
The Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto preserves the mounds built nearly 1,200 years ago by Hasinai Caddo Indians. Today’s Caddo might not live in the area, but their roots still connect them to their ancestors.
“They are still an active and viable tribe trying to preserve their heritage while living in the modern world,” Souther said.