Saturday, September 09, 2006

NDN Newz: Founder of AI Festival Dies

I received this sad news in my prayer loop recently:

Founder of American Indian Festival dies
08/31/2006 -

By Shelley Mann
Staff Writer

WINDER - Paul Eddy, the Winder man who founded the American Indian Festival, a Memorial Day weekend tradition at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, died Tuesday five months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Eddy, a Sioux, grew up on the Yankton reservation in South Dakota. During the four decades he lived in Winder, Eddy watched many American Indians immigrate to the area for its plentiful jobs and cheap housing. He started the American Indian Festival 15 years ago as a way to educate Gwinnettians about American Indian culture.

"A lot of people are misinformed," Eddy said during a 2004 interview. "They think of us as either the proud and noble red man or the bloodthirsty savage."

The festival, held in May and October, celebrates the simpler aspects of American Indian culture, such as storytelling, dancing, arts and crafts, drum making and flute playing. A festival parade honoring the Armed Forces always plays a major part in the Memorial Day festival, and was a favorite annual tradition of Eddy, who served in the U.S. Navy.

Eddy worked as a land surveyor and had spent the past 10 years doing residential development work in Gwinnett County, said his wife Leotis "Toadie" Eddy. He was also a 35-year member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and traveled the country speaking to people suffering from alcoholism.

Eddy's wife and son, Ryan, say they plan to continue organizing the American
Indian Festival.

"This is what Paul would want," said Leotis Eddy.



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