Native American arts and culture - from Catawba Indian pottery to dancing, drumming and storytelling - are some of the highlights at a festival Saturday at USC Lancaster.
The festival kicks off a series of free events next week, the university's fifth annual Native American Studies Week program. The series includes lectures, a film screening, and an oral history workshop designed for anyone who wants to know more about gathering family stories.
It's all part of the university's efforts to continue building its Native American Studies program, which has grown slowly but steadily over the last five years.
The program's offerings now include classes in myths and legends, archaeology and literature, according to Native American Studies program director Stephen Criswell.
York County's Catawba Indian tribe is a cornerstone of the university's program. USC Lancaster now has the largest set of archives on the Catawbas through a donation from Lancaster resident Thomas Blumer, a retired Library of Congress editor.
The school also houses the largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery. It's purchasing Blumer's 1,200-piece pottery collection with the help from grants and local historian Lindsay Pettus, who had acquired part of the collection. Collector Phil Wingard of Clover also donated or sold 200 pieces to the school.
Saturday's festival will include a special tribute to Earl and Viola Robbins, both master potters in the Catawba tribe who died this year. Earl Robbins, 87, died earlier this month; Viola Robbins, 88, died in January.
Criswell said their deaths emphasize the importance of recognizing the history of Native Americans in the Carolinas, and putting together programs that capture that.
"We're losing these elders in all these tribal groups everyday," Criswell said.
"Every time we lose one, we lose not only the person but all of the history they carry with them.
"We want to get out and talk to these folks while we can."