Natchez Powwow celebration is Saturday on Bluff

Published 7:37 am Friday, March 25, 2022

NATCHEZ — For more than 30 years, the Natchez Powwow has brought Native American tribes from across the region to Natchez to celebrate their heritage and culture while allowing others to watch traditional gourd dances and stickball games.

After a two-year break, the tradition is coming back again Saturday, this time taking place on the Natchez bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

The festivities will last all day, with set up beginning as early as 9 a.m. a short walk from the Natchez Grand Hotel on Broadway Street and lasting until 9 p.m., Powwow Chairman Chuck Borum said. Attendees will want to bring their lawn chairs to sit back in comfort as they socialize and enjoy the festivities, he said.

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“This is a social dance and get-together that allows people with Indian heritage to come out and enjoy participating in American Indian culture,” he said. He added there would also be dance demonstrations that would allow the audience to participate with them.

A team of Adams County Christian School students interested in the sport would also be trying out a stickball game, he said.

The Natchez Farmer’s Market will be set up as usual on Broadway alongside a variety of American Indian Trader Booths selling handmade crafts and Natchez Powwow T-shirts. Borum said there is no entry fee as there had been in years past but there will be crafts and a lot of good food for sale.

“It’s free and open for everyone,” Borum said. “We partnered with Visit Natchez and got a grant that replaced money that used to come from gate fees. That allows us to do it without charging a gate fee. We also had a lot of contributions from businesses in Natchez. We’ll have seven good food vendors plus Smoot’s is cooking in their courtyard. We’re asking people not to bring alcohol to the dance circle out of respect for the tribes.”

Broadway Street will be blocked from Jefferson to Madison Street and High Street will be blocked off from Broadway to Canal Street to allow people to walk freely on the festival site, he said. Parking will still be available along Broadway Street near the historic train Depot.

Saturday’s event starts with a traditional Native American stickball game around 9 a.m. followed by gourd dancing at 11 a.m.

Then at 1 p.m., there will be a Grand Entry ceremony for intertribal dancers. The event brings a social gathering of American Indians, including Master of Ceremonies Kevin “Bubba” Sovo of the Comanche tribe in Elgin, Oklahoma; arena director Darsh DeSilva from Round Rock, Texas; Head Singer and Southern Drummer Homer Dearmin from King, North Carolina; Head Man Dancer Mark Bolin from the Cherokee tribe of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Head Lady Dancer Anna McKibben-Pipestem of the Quapaw tribe in Quapaw, Oklahoma; Head Gourd Dancer Larry Richard of the Mowa Choctaw tribe in Metairie, Louisiana and several invited gourd dance groups including the Texas Gulf Coast Tia-Piah, White Star Gourd Dance Organization from Indiana and the Wounded Warrior Gourd Dance Organization from Louisiana.

Evening dances will start again at 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. closing, Borum said.

For more information, visit www.natchezpowwow.com or the Natchez Powwow Facebook page.