Dean Canty, traditional dancer, November 1999 Photo: O. Keith Brown
Yap Ye Iswa (Day of the Catawba)
A event of the Catawba Cultural Preservation
Project (CCPP), the Yap Ye Iswa (Day of the Catawbas)
originated in 1990 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and is held
annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This cultural
festival, staged by the Catawba Indian Nation, South Carolina's
only federally recognized Indian tribe, was designed as an
educational outreach to both the tribal community and the
non-tribal community. The mission of the CCPP is to preserve,
protect, promote and maintain the rich cultural heritage of the
Catawba Nation, "The People of the River."
The festival begins with a calling song performed by
the River Spirit drum group with the Grand Entry of tribal
veterans, dancers and drummers. After the Grand Entry, various
tribal drum groups play while tribal dancers perform traditional
Catawba dances. Throughout the day, the festival continues to
showcase drumming and dancing. A puppet show based on Catawba
folklore and in the Catawba language is presented continuously, as
are various video presentations on the Catawba culture.
The art and cultural event at
Yap Ye Iswa features the work of any Catawba artisans who wish to participate,
and visitors can view and purchase their work. Catawba pottery has
long been the thread that has woven the tribe together.
Archaeological evidence of the Catawba pottery shows that it
predates the first European contact in this region. When Catawba
men went to war alongside the colonists, the women made and sold
pottery for their families' survival. During the Great Depression,
this pottery again was sold for the Catawbas' survival. Thus
pottery is the prominent art at
Yap Ye Iswa, but other
Catawba art forms such as beadworking, basketry, and flint
knapping, are on also display during the event. During the 1999
festival, former Catawba chiefs and rulers of the Catawba Nation
were presented in an educational exhibit, and the new tribal
pageant representatives were introduced to the public. Visitors
could sample Catawba culinary treats such as corn roasted in fire
pits, venison stew and Indian tacos. For the less adventurous,
hamburgers and hot dogs were also available.
The project is documented with a nine-page report,
fourteen 8 x 10 photos with descriptions, a drumming and dancing
schedule for the 1999 event, a list of Catawba stories and a
schedule for their telling at the puppet show, newspaper and
magazine coverage, several promotional flyers, and three
videotapes: "10th Annual
Yap Ye Iswa Festival, November
27, 1999," "Catawba Indian Festival, 1999," and "
Originally submitted by: Strom Thurmond, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.