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Horner Park Riverfest Will Feature Canoe Rides And Native American Ceremony Saturday

The serpent ceremony will celebrate the First Nation community's connection to the land and waterways in Chicago as something that is sacred.

Proposed design of the mound at Horner Park.
Image courtesy Santiago X
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IRVING PARK — Horner Park’s free Riverfest will include canoe rides, a scavenger hunt, live music and a Native American dedication ceremony on Saturday.

“Saturday we’re going to celebrate a serpent ceremony — a celebration of the symbology of the earthworks that are planned at Horner Park,” Santiago X said. “We’re going to congregate near the field house on the north side of Horner Park where Montrose meets the Chicago River around 2:30 p.m.”

Santiago is an “indigenous futurist” artist who is a descendant of North American mound builders and stone carvers from the Marianas Islands, according to his website. He’s designing the effigy mound at Horner Park.

Effigy mounds were sacred land sculptures built by Native Americans, often resembling animals. Santiago’s Horner Park mound would be part of a walking museum trail from the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River across Irving Park Road.

“This is a serpent ceremony to celebrate the symbology of this work and it’ll be inclusive. The public is welcome to join on this procession,” Santiago said. “Once the ceremony starts the dancers and singers will take over.”

It’ll be similar to the ground stomping ceremony that happened on the other end of the trail in Schiller Woods on Aug. 2. A public unveiling of Horner Park’s finished mound is expected to take place next spring.

“With the procession it’s going to be community members coming together to bless the site, for lack of a better term,” Fawn Pochel said, an education coordinator with American Indian Center. “It’s going to be a contemporary inter-tribal ceremony that is going to center the First Nation community’s connection to the land and waterways in Chicago as something that is sacred.”

During the festival Saturday, the American Indian Center will also be overseeing a scavenger hunt game to help people identify plants in the newly restored river walkway at Horner Park.

Additionally, the park district is going to have canoes available at the launch and offer lessons for beginner paddlers on the river, said John Friedmann, vice president of the Horner Park Advisory Council.

RELATED: Mound Project To Celebrate Area’s Native American History At Horner Park Could Break Ground in September

“For new people [this] probably is their first time in a canoe in the river, so they’ll be providing instruction for use,” he said. “We’ll also have mini-boat races for kids. We’re trying to engage the youth because they’re the future stewards of the river.”

For more information about Saturday’s event visit its Facebook page here.

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