BELTON — Historical interpreter Curtis Carter will set up a tepee and discuss plains Indian lifestyles from noon to 4 p.m. March 23 at the Bell County Museum in Belton.

Since 2006, Carter has visited Bell County Museum every October for Texas Archaeology Month. The event was very successful last year, so museum director Stephanie Turnham invited him to return for spring break.

“It’s really cool,” Turnham said. “We want to provide a fun, educational opportunity for students to learn about another culture over spring break. They can ask him anything, and he’ll know the answer.”

Carter will erect a tepee in the front courtyard of the museum grounds on Main Street, display Native American artifacts, and discuss day-to-day aspects of life on the plains.

“I’ve had a lifelong interest in Native American life,” he said. “As a kid, anything Indian held my interest. Now I am doing southern Cheyenne from 1860s and 1870s. I think this focus on what we’re doing is what makes us good.”

Carter’s versatile tepee, typical of a 1860s Cheyenne home, represents the freedom and nomadic lifestyle of plains-dwelling Native Americans, he said.

“My tepee is not a mish-mash of different tribal styles,” he said. “You’re walking into a tepee that is southern Cheyenne, from a real short, specific time frame.”

In exhibitions, Carter discusses tepee guest etiquette, like using buffalo knuckles as a doorbell and the proper way to move about within a tepee. His wife, Eleanor, and son, Matthew, sometimes help with demonstrations about toys used by Native American children. Blankets, chairs, tools, spears, shields and bags made out of parflesh are on display.

But these items are not just for show.

“We take this stuff out and camp in it and see how it works,” Carter said.

The Bell County Museum is at 201 N. Main St., Belton. Admission is free. For more information, call (254) 933-5243 or go to www.bellcountymuseum.org.

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