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Get ready for annual powwow

The 23rd annual Natchez Powwow is scheduled for March 26–27 at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, located at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd.

No public seating is provided; visitors are urged to bring lawn chairs. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.

The admission charge helps to offset powwow expenses and benefits the Natchez Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW personnel will be operating the Powwow gate.

A variety of food and craft booths will surround the dance circle.

Craft and food booths will open at 10 a.m. Saturday. This year for the first time, we will feature a stickball game made up of players from the community of Natchez Indian descendants in Oklahoma and members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

The game will be from 9 to noon Saturday morning. Once played by Indian tribes throughout eastern North America, stickball continues to be a major American Indian sport.

Colonial Europeans documented many versions of the game. Among the Mississippi Choctaws and Chickasaws, players typically used two sticks or rackets, while the Natchez Indians played a hands-only variation of the sport.

The modern game of lacrosse is derived from a version of the game in which players used just one stick. Despite its variations, stickball has always been a rough contact sport played by both women and men.

Following the Saturday stickball game, gourd dancing begins at 1 p.m. followed by the grand entry and intertribal dancing at 2 p.m. Saturday evening dancing begins at 7 p.m.

Sunday’s activities begin at noon with craft and food booths open. Gourd dancing begins at 1 p.m. followed by the grand entry and intertribal dancing at 2 p.m. In the case of rain, the dancing and booths will relocate to the Trinity School gymnasium on U. S. 61 South.

The Natchez Powwow is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Dr. Charles Borum, who heads the Natchez Powwow Committee. Dr. Borum founded the Natchez Powwow in 1989 after participating for many years in powwows in Oklahoma.

In 1990, the event moved to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a National Historic Landmark with a museum accredited by the American Association of Museums.

In 2010 more than 3,400 people attended this unique event to celebrate the American Indian heritage of the Natchez area.

Patterned after powwows in Oklahoma, the Natchez Powwow has become a tradition in the Miss-Lou, linking our modern society with this area’s past cultures and the rich legacy of the Natchez Indians. Over the years, Natchez Powwow participants have represented many American Indian tribes including: Natchez, Ponca, Comanche, Creek, Cherokee, Shawnee-Quapaw, Delaware, Oto, Osage, Mississippi Choctaw, Coushatta, Cheyene, Potowatami, Navajo and Sac Fox.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is an appropriate location for ceremonial and social dancing.

From around A.D. 1200 until 1729, the site served as a ceremonial center for the Natchez Indians and their ancestors.

We invite the public to help us celebrate the 23rd annual Natchez Powwow. The Grand Village is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Call 601-446-6502 for more information.

Jim Barnett is the director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.

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