BROOKSVILLE — An Indian trading post never entered Mary Kirkconnell's mind some 16 years ago when she launched a nature shop in Tampa. But the more she delved into natural wonders, the more she learned of American Indians' devotion to and reliance on the Earth's offerings.
On Saturday, as she celebrates the 10th anniversary of Peace Tree Trading at 770 E Jefferson St., Kirkconnell aims to spread knowledge and the mystique of both nature and Indian ways with a powwow featuring the Big Mountain Family from the Mohawk Territory in Canada.
In a lot adjacent to the trading post, the troupe of Indian performers and educators will stage three free public shows — an encampment re-enactment at noon, a Wild West revue at 2 p.m. and a musical rendition at 4 p.m.
Oskwanontona Big Mountain — of Comanche and Mohawk heritage and whose great-grandfather appeared in shows with "Buffalo Bill" Cody in Oklahoma in the mid 1800s — stars in the productions.
The artistic, herbal and nature-sourced goods at Peace Tree Trading have an even longer history, still valued today. Original Indian jewelry, mainly of wrought silver and natural turquoise crafted by Navajos, is the post's big seller, said Kirkconnell, 46. Also high in demand are bath and body herbal remedies, organic and natural products concocted of traditionally gathered Navajo herbs.
But the post offers a lot more, embracing home decor such as pottery, blankets and dream catchers; art including baskets, painted gourds and carvings in stone and wood; music ranging from wooden flutes to wind chimes and CDs of American Indian folk instrumentalists, and reproductions of arrows, shields, dance wands and prayer fans.
Tammy Heon, Hernando County tourism development director, said Peace Tree Trading draws shoppers from all over the region.
"Visitors stop by the Hernando County Visitor Center asking for directions to (Peace Tree) almost daily," Heon said.
Before moving to Brooksville, Kirkconnell had taken over a struggling trading post in Tampa, where her stock included plants, semiprecious stones and interesting rocks such as geodes and crystals.
"I had a few dream catchers," she said. "I heard people referring to my shop as 'the Indian place.' So, I added a few shields, then blankets and pottery."
Her endeavor in Brooksville grew to include mostly Indian items, but she stocks a nook of stones and fossils.
Also highlighting the anniversary celebration, as a thank you to her customers, will be a storewide sale, a silver and turquoise jewelry trunk show and a raffle to benefit a Navajo charity — the prize a signed, limited edition print by Western artist Dean Quigley.
Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]