The Black Indian and Native American Heritage Month Fair begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 10th with opening comments from the event establisher, Jason Irby, followed by a presentation of colors by the Parkview Arts Science Magnet High School ROTC.
“We presented this heritage event to preserve the history of Native Americans and the people of African descent who shared relationships among them. Relationships ranged from friendship, family membership, to slavery,” said Irby.
David Ware, the Arkansas Secretary of State Office’s capitol historian, welcomed the audience with comments on behalf of the Secretary of State Mark Martin. Juanenna Williams read from the program to provide participants with an overview of the heritage event.
Irby shared, “This subject of Black Indians is not widely discussed in popular media. Many African descendants have knowledge based only on the stories of fore parents and relatives. Others of African descent hold written records concerning blood relationships.”
The speaking series began at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield’s presentation on Black Indians. Dr. Littlefield is the director of the Sequoyah National Research Center. Caroline Kent’s presentation began at noon and covered the Choctaw and Chickasaw slaves during the Indian removal through Little Rock. Ty Wilson’s presentation addressed growing up Black and Cherokee.
“We encourage everyone to research family history and see where it leads you. We confirm that histories among Blacks and Indians will be very interesting and intriguing. Please visit the Sequoyah National Research Center for detailed information concerning this subject of Native American Nations and Tribes across the United States,” concluded Irby.
Featured exhibitors included the following:
4-H and Cooperative Extension Services
Arkansas Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Arkansas Women in Agriculture
Black History Commission of Arkansas
Cherokees for Black Indian History and Preservation
Sequoyah National Research Center
The Butler Center of Arkansas Studies
Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park
UA Little Rock Anthropology Club
UAPB Small Farm Program
Participating vendors included All Season Party Rentals, Boom Boom BBQ, and Home Concessions.
Irby formed a committee to develop the inaugural Black Indian and Native American Heritage Month Fair. The committee included:
- Barrett Allen, Director of the UA Little Rock District Partnership Office
- Carla Coleman, Chair of the Black History Commission of Arkansas
- Daniel F. Littlefield, Director of the Sequoyah National Research Center
- Juanenna Williams and Erica Benedicto of the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission
- Raymond Screws, Director of Arkansas National Guard Museum
- Allison Gwinup, Graduate Assistant at the UA Little Rock District Partnership Office
After a successful presentation and showing of community support, the committee announced a decision that this heritage event will be presented annually.