Native Americans to be celebrated during North Park event

Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 12:01 AM


A celebration of Native American history and heritage will take place at 3 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Latodami Nature Center in North Park.

Earl Dingus, who has Cherokee roots, and his wife, Lenora, with Seneca roots, will be leading an entertaining and educational session complete with songs, stories, displays, food and more.

Registration for the free event can be made through www.allegheny county.us.

Lenora said opportunities like these are a great way to make the public aware of the contributions of Native Americans locally and across the country.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and Earl agreed sharing his background is important to him.

“It keeps my culture alive and helps keep me connected to all real actions in nature, (including) four-footed, winged, all the creep and call, and all that grows,” Earl said. “We respect nature as we are related to all on this earth.”

At this event, Lenora said they will be demonstrating the different foods Native Americans ate, including those they derived from the wild. She said a lot of what people eat now were contributions from Native Americans, such as tomatoes.

“Sharing food with people makes them aware of our culture,” Lenora said.

She’ll be sharing the recipe of “Three Sisters Chili” which is made with corn, beans and squash — staples of many Eastern Native American tribes. The nutrients from these three ingredients make for a complete meal.

She’ll also be featuring a sarsaparilla tea, used for stomachaches and “tastes good,” she said.

Also, fried bread was a favorite and eaten with meals or with acorn coffee.

She and Earl will discuss the different plants they used for medicinal purposes, including fruits, nuts and berries. Naturally, Native Americans who lived in the East had different plants, and thus remedies, than those who lived in the West, Lenora said.

These are practices that have been around for thousands of years, and certainly prior to Columbus coming to the Americas, Lenora said.

When people learn about a culture, it helps curb negatives, such as racism.

Her heritage stems from the Seneca tribe, which was in the Pennsylvania area. They had trade routes in Ohio, New York and Connecticut. Earl’s Cherokee heritage stems from further south, such as North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, she said.

A big part of Native American education is through the stories they tell, of which they’ll be sharing on Saturday, Lenora said.

“Stories are very important. It’s a way to remember history. It’s entertaining but has a moral end to it,” she said.

Earl also will be speaking in his native Cherokee tongue. They’ll show different arts and crafts, as well as demonstrate dancing.

The Baldwin couple has been conducting informational sessions like these for more than 40 years in the region, including at local school districts, Lenora said. They hold about 25 programs a year.

They also will be presenting an event at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at Round Hill Farm in Elizabeth, Pa.