Natchez Powwow celebrates 23 years

Published 9:23 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Young and old will dance at the Natchez Powwow, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m.

NATCHEZ — Culture, ancestry and a bit of history will come to life Saturday and Sunday with the beat of a few drums.

The Natchez Powwow will fill the grounds of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians for the 23rd year starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The day will kickoff with a new addition — a stickball game — from 9 to 11 a.m.

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Booths selling Native American wares and food will be set up all day. Approximately 25 traders are scheduled to participate.

Dozens of dancers — many Native Americans — will begin dancing at 1 p.m. A second round of dancing will start at 7 p.m.

Admission is $5 each day for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger.

Creator and organizer Dr. Chuck Borum said dancers will move to the beat of the music and use their own style of dance. Nothing is choreographed.

“It’s not really a performance,” he said. “It’s ongoing intertribal dancing. It’s just fun social dancing.”

An emcee will offer some tidbits about the styles of dancing as they occur.

Borum designed the Natchez Powwow after ones he frequently attended while living in Oklahoma.

Native Americans and some dancers who are not Native American will come from all over the country to participate.

Tribes represented may included Natchez, Ponca, Comanche, Creek, Cherokee, Shawnee-Quapaw, Delaware, Oto, Osage, Mississippi Choctaw, Coushatta, Cheyene, Potowatami, Navajo and Sac Fox.

The entire weekend is a good way to get to know a part of America’s society many people do not fully understand, Borum said.

“It’s a good introduction to something that is still an ongoing culture,” he said. “Sometimes we look at history books and think there aren’t any more Indians, but it’s fun to see Native Americans who are like everyone else.”

Jim Barnett, the director of the Grand Village, said if the weather is nice he expects between 3,000 and 4,000 people to fill the village this weekend.

“We’ll have several hundred in participants and their families,” Barnett said. “And we do see a lot of out-of-town folks. We have telephone calls from as far away as Florida from people wanting to know about this event.”

Included in the festivities will be a handful of Natchez Indian descendants from an Oklahoma-based tribe.

Though the Natchez tribe assimilated with other area tribes when they were defeated by the French in the 1700s, a number of descendants can trace their ancestry to the tribe, Barnett said.

Hutke Fields, one of the Natchez Indians from Oklahoma, promoted the idea of including stickball at this year’s event.

Sunday’s activities will begin at noon with booths and dancing.

In the case of rain, the dancing and booths will relocate to the Trinity School gymnasium.