Have you ever wanted to practice playing a dulcimer or learn how early pioneers survived in the wilderness surrounding the early Natchez Trace? There are numerous special events that take place in the Tupelo area throughout the year. Come during one of the park’s Dulcimer Days or Pioneer Days and practice your skills!
You may also choose to join a park ranger and explore parts of the original Trace, or learn more about the many American Indian mounds found along route of the modern Parkway. Discover the world of boatmen and bandits, Chickasaw and Choctaw, and forest and wildlife. Ranger programs are always free; schedules and topics vary by season. Please call 1-800-305-7417 for more information on ranger-led activities. All events take place at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center located at milepost 266 near Tupelo, Mississippi.
November 5 – Choctaw Heritage Day
The Natchez Trace Parkway is pleased to host the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians for a Choctaw Heritage Celebration on Saturday, November 5. The event, in commemoration of American Indian Heritage Month, is from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. “The history of the Parkway and Mississippi is intertwined with the history of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians. We hope this event will help foster an appreciation for the traditional Choctaw culture, and we are thrilled that representatives from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw are coming here to share it,” said Terry Wildy, Acting Chief of Interpretation for the Parkway.
November 12 – Dulcimer Day
A special program of dulcimer music will be provided by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 12.
The North Mississippi Dulcimer Association teaches dulcimer history, tradition, craftsmanship, and music by sharing its knowledge and talents. The Appalachian mountain dulcimer is the first instrument developed in the United States. Dating back to the early 1800s, the dulcimer is an instrument whose very name means “sweet sound.” The National Park Service and the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association invite everyone to listen to the soft sweet sounds of the dulcimer and learn of its extensive history.
November 19 – American Indian Tool Display
To commemorate National American Indian Heritage Month, Mr. Pat Arinder will display replicas of prehistoric American Indian tools on Saturday, November 19 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The presentation will contain examples of prehistoric American Indian stone tools, including knives, spears, bow and arrows, atlatls, grinding stones, and a bow drill. Mr. Arinder will share information about the tools with visitors and the replicas will be available for hands-on interpretation.
Mr. Arinder has studied Early American and American Indian cultures for over 40 years, and has assembled a large collection of stone tools to lead living history programs. In addition to working with school groups, he has also shared his talents as a volunteer interpretive historian with the National Park Service at the Natchez Trace Parkway for the past fourteen years.
November 26 – Pioneer Day
The Tombigbee Pioneer Group will perform living history demonstrations that show the challenges faced and creative solutions developed by those Americans who lived in the area from the 1700s to 1840. The demonstrations will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 26. The public is invited to watch pioneer lifestyle activities that often include corn-shuck doll making, basket weaving, beading, and quill pen demonstrations. Leatherworking and mountain dulcimer demonstrations will also be offered throughout the day. Children are invited to participate by dressing up in pioneer clothes and trying these activities firsthand.
Credit: National Park Service