Your average 15-year-old doesn't walk around dressed like Pocahontas and sleep in tepees, but Shalee Shever never aspired to be average.
"This has been part of my life since I was six," she says. "The earliest memory in my life is the pop of the black-powder rifles going off in the distance.
"A lot of kids my age think I'm pretty weird, but after they learn a little more about what I do, some of them think it's kind of cool, too."
She is part of the Cherokee Ridgerunners rendezvous, a popular feature at the Albert City Threshermen & Collectors Show held last weekend. The encampment recreates the 1700s-1800s for thousands of visitors, its members young and old showing off skills as old as the earliest pioneers of America.
Unlike other rendezvous, the Albert City event includes many children playing the historical roles. Little ones as young as 1 year old scamper from tent to tent in simple linen dresses, looking as if they'd just stepped off a covered wagon. Young boys whoop as they succeed in their first attempt to spark a fire with a flint, the precursor to a feed of sweet corn for the entire rendezvous, steamed in an ancient iron pot over an outdoor campfire.
Shalee, blond hair pulled up high in a bobbing pony tail, wearing a choker made of Native American-style beadwork and a long dress of fringed leather that she designed and sewed herself, is proud to be a part of the lifestyle.
"My grandparents and my dad were involved in historical recreations before me, so I guess it comes naturally," she grins. "I feel right at home hanging out here, and it is really relaxing. I think I'm lucky, because these events are a great experience to have, and most people don't ever get to try living this way."
At 15, she is an accomplished frontier-style seamstress, adept in beadwork of both the Crow and Cherokee tribe styles, a wiz on the loom. She can make her own rope, and cook fry bread over an open fire.
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