OCCC Students Explore Traditional Native American Culture During Native American Heritage Fair

By Zoe Taylor

Oklahoma City Community College hosted a Native American Heritage Fair on Nov. 17 with several exhibits, allowing students and faculty to learn about traditional Native American Culture.

The fair was held in the main OCCC building and offered booths designed in a walk-through manner that showcased traditional native beading, basket weaving and other aspects of native heritage. 

Stationed at the beadwork booth interacting hands-on with the spokesperson, Kymberly Hazllett, were OCCC students, creating their own beaded jewelry such as bracelets, earrings and collars.

Hazllett said beadwork is highly significant in Native American culture, “a lot of times they would take your beads and bead it on Mocksisons or whatever. Beads have been being traded a long time.” she said

Hazllett taught the students about different stitchings in beadwork, such as a “peyote stitch” –– a stitch where you bead around an item. 

“It takes a little bit more time because you pick up each bead individually,” she said. 

Hazllett presented several different traditional beaded jewelry pieces. One specifically was a beaded collar. 

“A lot of the Chickasaw women will wear collars like this on their regalia when they are dancing,” she said.

This booth displayed the many different ways beadwork, like the Chickasaw collar, can be repurposed. Hazellett explained that she and her daughter used the same beading style to place a collar around Christmas ornaments. 

Along with beadwork, another critical aspect of traditional Native American culture is basket weaving. 

Truman Mccomb Maxey, a small business owner, ran the basket weaving booth during the fair. 

In Maxey’s booth, he displayed the overall process of creating a “double-wall” basket. 

Maxey said these baskets could be specific to each tribe, as his baskets would be called a “Creek Double-Wall Basket” since he is a part of the Creek tribe.

Maxey stated the baskets are made of “round reed; basically a form of rattan.” However, Maxey noted this is the “post-industrial material” utilized, and “the traditional material before would’ve been honeysuckle” as well as some variations of the “cattail plant, and river cane.” 

The process of creating a double-walled basket can be highly complicated, Maxey confirmed. “The beginning is the hardest part for me because you have to be able to hold the basket tight,” he stated. 

Basket weaving can be time-consuming, Maxey said as he displayed his collection, “small basket like this would take an hour, a medium basket would be two, and a large basket would take three to four.” 

“Conventional colors for native basket weaving would be red, yellow, and black as the traditional style would have these colors more washed out,” Maxey said.

Maxey’s shop, SvmpvtOmese, likes to sell these double-walled baskets with modern dyes that allow the baskets to be vibrant in color and allow customers to customize their baskets. 

Maxey stated he veers off from the conventional path of basket weaving by creating baskets with various designs and lids.