CONTACT: Karen Beasley, Director of Marketing & Communications
Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association
PHONE: 256.350.3500 / 800.648.5381

Tuscumbia’s Tribute to Native American Heritage and Culture Features Demonstrations, Hands-on Activities and Authentic Indian Food

Decatur, Ala. (August 4, 2023) – A celebration of the culture and traditions of the indigenous people who once inhabited North Alabama is planned for downtown Tuscumbia offering two days of educational and free family fun. Oka Kapassa: Return to Coldwater is set for September 8-9, 2023, with activities taking place in and around Spring Park in downtown Tuscumbia. 

The Oka Kapassa: Return to Coldwater Festival is a free family event featuring Native American heritage, entertainment and education through hands-on activities and demonstrations. Friday, September 8 is school day at the festival for area students to attend and learn about North Alabama’s Native American heritage. Approximately 1,000 students, from as far away as Walker County in Alabama and southern Middle Tennessee, will attend. 

On Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., the Tuscumbia Roundhouse will hold a cultural history event presented by representatives of the Poarch Creek, Alabama’s only federally recognized native American tribe. This program will be followed by a presentation of Tuscumbia history related to Native Americans and a trolley tour of the Tuscumbia witness sites of the Indian Removal Period.

On Saturday, September 9, festivities get underway at 10 a.m. with grand entry at 11:00 a.m. Special crafts, fancy and traditional dance demonstrations, storytelling and music will all be on the agenda and authentic Native American artwork and crafts will be available for purchase. There will also some hands on activities for festivalgoers.  

Several well-known American Indian cooks will attend and prepare foods that were developed by their ancestors. Juanita Gardinski and brother Billy Thompson (Choctaw) are returning to Oka Kapassa to serve delicious and authentic Native American foods such as buffalo stew and burgers, fry bread, Indian tacos, fish and roasted corn. Gardinski will also demonstrate bead work and share Choctaw culture with festivalgoers.

Gina Brown (Chickasaw) will travel from Ada, Okla., her tribal homeland, to cook traditional pashofa, a stew combining pork and cracked corn. This is traditionally cooked for powwow dancers and participants. Cooked in a cast iron pot over an open fire, it is left unseasoned, allowing the person eating it to season to their own taste. Mary Newman (Eastern Cherokee) will demonstrate traditional outdoor cooking of the 1800s, preparing foods in cast iron and clay pots over a campfire.

The Coldwater Stagecoach Stop, living history log cabin located at 301 S. Dickson Street in Tuscumbia, will  be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

The daylong event concludes at 6 p.m. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Admission is free. For more information, call Colbert County Tourism at 800.344.0783 or 256.383.0783 or visit the Oka Kapassa Festival-Return to Coldwater Facebook page. 


About Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA)
AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the $4.3 billion North Alabama travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state. It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, golf courses, restaurants, accommodations and vendors. Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available by calling 800.648.5381, by visiting and by following us on social media @VisitNorthAL.