• 64°

Annual Powwow brings history to life

Head male dancer Vernon Sossie of Claremore, Okla. prepares to perform during the grand entry and intertribal dance of the 27th annual Natchez Powwow Saturday at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Head male dancer Vernon Sossie of Claremore, Okla. prepares to perform during the grand entry and intertribal dance of the 27th annual Natchez Powwow Saturday at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ Dressing up in Native American clothing and attending the annual Natchez Powwow at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is a yearly tradition for Jessica Davis and her family.

The Winnsboro, La., resident said the powwow is a chance to teach children about the rich history of Native Americans.

Her children — Christian Morris, 9; Josey Davis, 5; Colton Davis, 4; and Jeremiah Davis, 1 — all gathered Saturday in the center of the festivities as they awaited the famous gourd dance, a type of Native American celebration dance and ceremony, while learning a little history.

“My daughter came down from the mound earlier and said, ‘Well, people had to die for us to play up there,’ ” Davis said. “It’s just a good experience for the kids.”

The annual intertribal get-together hosted on the grounds of the Grand Village is patterned after powwows in Okalahoma.

Participants from multiple Native American tribes such as the Choctaw, Ottawa and Natchez, attended the event while dressing in traditional clothing and dancing to the beat of drums, which Davis said she enjoys because it honors her Native American heritage.

Davis’s husband, Josh Davis, is Cherokee, while she has Choctaw and Cherokee roots.

Female head dancer Jenni LaQuay of Indianapolis gets help with her outfit from her husband Dana LaQuay during the 27th annual Natchez Powwow Saturday at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Female head dancer Jenni LaQuay of Indianapolis gets help with her outfit from her husband Dana LaQuay during the 27th annual Natchez Powwow Saturday at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

“It gives you more to look into,” she said. “It’s always good to know about your genes.”

But for Braxton resident Nathan Barnes, attending the powwow was an opportunity for him to relive his childhood.

During the event, Barnes used his martial arts skills to get in touch with nature, which the Native Americans before him took great care of.

“It’s so good out here,” Barnes said. “They actually took care of the earth because they knew if they took care of it, it would take care of them.”

Barnes said getting in touch with nature is a part of his being.

“It keeps me motivated,” he said. “You have got to have something to drive you forward and keep you passionate or else you will just stay in one place.”

Those who attended the event stopped by the tent of Wayne Voyles — whose Native American name is Black Eagle — to purchase feathers and other goods to parade with on the grounds of the Grand Village.

Voyles said his two great-grandmothers were full-blooded Cherokee.

“The powwow allows us to show the traditions of our native people,” Voyles said. “The fellowship is special. It’s just like a big family get-together and I feel the spirit of the native people.”

The Natchez Powwow continues at 11 a.m. today. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12.