What You'll See at LAW
The LAW venue is arranged as a series of educational stations in two locations at Gladie. Topic-specific content and activities, which vary somewhat from year to year, are presented at each station. A recurring theme of the activities, however, is the life-
ways of the people who lived in Kentucky, focusing on American Indians and early pioneers, as well as the ways archaeologists interpret those past lifeways and work to preserve the evidence of past peoples.
A standard component of the native lifeways program are the foodways stations, where visitors learn about wild and domesticated food sources, cultivation and harvesting strategies, and open-fire, hot rock, and earth oven cooking. On Saturday, visitors sample fresh roasted turkey and squash, smoked fish, and other traditionally prepared foods. Nearby, botanists demonstrate medicinal plant use and traditional curing practices.
Native technology stations are perennial favorites among the participants at LAW. The demonstrators include professional archaeologists, American Indian craftspeople, and nationally renowned primitive technology experts. The flintknappers always attract large crowds, as they discuss raw material acquisition and processing and demonstrate various chipped-stone tool manufacturing techniques. Various hunting technologies – including bow and arrow, atlatl and spear, and blow guns – are explained and demonstrated. Participants have opportunities to make their own blow gun darts, operate a pump drill, and hurl a spear at a three-dimensional deer model. Other stations include pottery making, hide tanning, cattail mat weaving, willow and river cane basket weaving, bent-pole house construction, and ground-stone tool manufacture. Hands-on opportunities are offered whenever possible. Although demonstrators are permitted to sell hand-crafted and replicated items on Saturday, and occasionally attendees bring artifacts for identification, there is a strict prohibition against buying-selling-trading authentic artifacts at the LAW event.
Another important set of educational stations relate to native beliefs, entertainment and recreation, and artistic expression. Expert demonstrators illustrate how cane flutes were manufactured and played, and they describe archaeological evidence of cane flutes from sites in Kentucky. American Indian storytellers in relate stories about how ‘Possum got his tail and how Grandmother Spider brought fire. Members of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma discuss music and its integral role in contemporary social and ceremonial life, display Shawnee clothing and crafts, speak the Shawnee language, and lead visitors in traditional dances. Members of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians demonstrate marbles, stick ball, and other traditional games as they discuss the importance of games in Cherokee culture.
Over the past seven years, the LAW Steering Committee has worked diligently to enhance and expand educational opportunities related to pioneer lifeways, high-
lighting the ways that pioneers used different but parallel technologies as native peoples. Pioneer technology demonstrations include blacksmithing and firearms, as well as the clothing and fur processing activities of the longhunters from Kentucky's frontier period.
The pioneer foodways stations focus on the importance of corn and how it was processed and cooked. Demonstrators show methods for cooking over an open fire. On Saturday visitors are invited to sample traditionally prepared soup beans and delicious corn bread prepared by the Frenchburg Job Corps.
Pioneer craft demonstrations focus on corn husk dolls and other crafts, spinning, weaving, and quilting. Music demonstrations feature dulcimer making and a band with traditional claw-hammer banjo and washboard base instruments.
The Gladie Cabin, a permanent exhibit at the Gladie Learning Center, is featured in the pioneer demonstration area. Visitors learn about pioneer construction methods, housing, and daily lifeways through self-guided tours of the cabin. The cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a display at the cabin explains this important program for preserving cultural resources.