American Indian festival begins in Oklahoma City 6-1-07

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - More than 1,200 American Indian artists and dancers from throughout North America are expected to be in Oklahoma City this weekend for the 21st annual Red Earth Festival, which began Friday.

Organizers call the event the largest of its kind in the world. More than 24,000 people attended the three-day festival last year, an increase of 23 percent from 2005.

The festival opened with a parade - during which more than 100 tribes were represented - on Friday morning in downtown Oklahoma City, and dance competition began Friday afternoon. A 5-kilometer run is scheduled for Saturday, and art and vendor markets will remain open through Sunday.

The festival's dance competitions, which will continue through Sunday, provide a rare occasion during which dancers from North America's Northern and Southern tribes can be seen together in one venue, said Eric Oesch, the festival's deputy director.
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