Indians crowd Grand Village for Powwow

Published 9:22 am Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nothing could have dampened the mood of the upbeat crowd (or the beautiful weather, even) that turned out for the 19th annual Natchez Powwow at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians Saturday.

“We’re excited to be here,” Miguel Gonzalez, of Vidalia, said.

Gonzalez and his kids camped out at the Grand Village Friday night, and stayed all day Saturday.

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“We’ve never done this before. It’s my son J.R.’s first time to go camping and I think he’s enjoyed it. We’re looking forward to the Indian demonstrations and dances,” he said.

Most of the crowd was looking forward to the dances, which lasted most of the day.

“The dance is the biggest part of (this event). The dancing is all day, and continues into the night,” Grand Village Director Jim Barnett said.

Barnett said that many Native American tribes from all over the Eastern United States attend the event each year.

“Many Native Americans consider this a special powwow because it’s held on a real archaeological site. Natchez Indians held dances here when they lived here. Most powwow’s are held at fairgrounds or ballfields, so it’s important for the dancers to be here,” he said.

Barnett explained that the annual powwow was started by local practitioner Charles Borum.

“When he came back to Natchez after medical school, his dream was to establish a powwow here. We were delighted. It’s a wonderful event. It’s our biggest event of the year, and it’s a unique event for the area,” Barnett said.

“I think that’s why it’s so popular with people. People like to experience the Native American heritage that we all share in this part of Mississippi.”

Cub scouts, boy scouts and girl scouts camped out at the site Friday, and enjoyed a full day of activities Saturday.

“We want them to learn a little more about the Indian culture and their traditions,” Assistant Cub Master Jennifer Stelly said.

Mary Ed Guedon, of Church Hill, attended the powwow with five of her grandchildren.

“We wanted to see the Natchez Indians’ costumes and all the crafts,” Guedon said.

Her granddaughter, Maggie Ray, 11, especially liked the necklaces and was checking out each booth to find the perfect one.

Barnett said that about 5,000 people were expected to visit the Grand Village this weekend.

The powwow continues today, beginning at 10 a.m. The dance is schedueled to start at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Natchez Veterans of Foreign War post.