Dancers gather for annual Powwow at Grand Village

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 29, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Large crowds carrying lawn chairs &045; and some people wrapped in Mexican blankets &045; made their way into the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians for the 15th annual Natchez Powwow on Saturday.

Committee Chairman Chuck Borum, who announced the first set of dancers, said the &uot;people were pouring in at the gate.&uot;

Native American dance competitions and exhibitions were the highlight of the afternoon for visitors who tapped their feet and hands to the sound of the drums and chanting of the performers.

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Chase Patrick, 11, who was dressed in feathers and a Native American outfit, performed a grass dance and explained the special meaning of the dance.

&uot;When an Indian would do something special they would grab clumps of grass and put it on their outfits,&uot; Patrick said.

Patrick is of Cherokee heritage and performs in the Powwow every year.

William Hickman brought his son to the festivities to learn the grass dance.

&uot;We’re here to try to give my son practice in grass dancing before his outfitting of the gathering of the nation in Albuquerque, N.M.&uot; he said.

Hickman, who is a Choctaw and his wife a Navaho, said tribes across the nation will gather in Albuquerque for a Powwow.

Before the dancing began, visitors such

as Erika Bankston of Sorrento browsed the booths that sold jewelry, paintings, pottery, clothing and much more.

&uot;I want to buy some shoes (moccasins),&uot; 8-year-old Bankston said.

One booth caught the ears of visitors all over the village.

William Harjo, a Creek Native American, was playing his CD titled &uot;Seasons for the Heart&uot; that could be heard throughout the village. He also sold handcrafted flutes.

Harjo said the story behind the flute is about a boy in love.

Harjo explained that a young man was sick at heart for a girl but she did not return the feelings.

The boy went to a medicine man who told him to go on a vision quest.

On the fourth day of the boy’s vision quest he heard a strange sound that led him to a cane field.

The boy took the cane and figured out how to make music with it. The boy played the flute in his village and as the girl heard the music she couldn’t resist.

Visitors can hear Harjo’s story of the flute and watch the Native American dances again today when Powwow reopens at 11 a.m.