Native American dancers and artisans from across the nation will gather for the 19th annual Pow Wow celebration at the Chief Joseph “Alcide” Pierite Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in Marksville, Friday through Sunday.
The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Paragon Casino Resort will host the cultural festivities, filled with authentic food, arts and crafts, dancing, singing and more. This year’s Pow Wow will feature special performances by New York native Pura Fé. Pura Fé descends from a generation of Native American singing sisters from North Carolina. She is a founding member of the Native American women’s acapella trio, Ulali. She also appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” with Ulali and Robbie Robertson to debut the Ulali song “Mahk Jchi — Heartbeat Drum Song,” which went platinum in Italy. Pura Fé will perform twice Saturday, at 11 a.m. and at 6:15 p.m. Hawk Henries will perform on the Nipmuc flute from 6:30-7:15 p.m. on Friday. The Grand Entry procession of dancers in full regalia will be held at 7:30 p.m. At 8:30 p.m., the Pow Wow Committee will host a Special Mystery Dance Contest where three categories will be randomly selected to compete. Participants will compete for a $1,000 winner-take-all prize in each dance category. On Saturday and Sunday, the best Native American dancers from across the country will compete for a share of $35,000 in cash prizes. Dance category styles include: fancy, grass, traditional, straight, buckskin and jingle. Categories are divided as follows: golden age (men and women, 50 plus), adults (men and women, ages 18-49), juniors (boys and girls, ages 11-17) and children (boys and girls, 10 years and younger). The Golden Age Men & Women’s (age 50+) will be expanded into four categories including Northern and Southern styles. The Chicken Dance has become a standard category for adults (age 18+). Native American drum groups will compete for a share of $12,000 in cash prizes. First place winners will receive $3,000, second place $2,000 and third place $1,000 in both Northern and Southern style categories. Host drums are not eligible. Activities on Saturday will also include Tunica Biloxi Singers and Legend Keepers telling stories and singing at 10 a.m.; gourd dancing at noon; Grand Entry and social dancing from 1-4 p.m.; Hawk Henries Nipmuc flute concert at 5:30 p.m.; and Grand Entry, social dancing and dance competitions beginning at 7:30 p.m. The event is open to the general public. Daily admission to the Pow Wow is $5. The fee for children five and younger is $3. Native American food, art and craft vendors will also be a special part of the weekend’s festivities. On Sunday, Tunica-Biloxi Singers and Legend Keepers will tell stories and sing songs at 10 a.m. followed by gourd dancing at 10:30 a.m. Grand Entry, social dancing and competition finals will begin at 12 noon, followed by dance and drum contest awards at 4 p.m. The Pow Wow Committee will present a series of free 90-minute programs on Native American culture for school children on Wednesday and Thursday on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation. Area students will be able to learn firsthand about Indian cultures from native people in this unique opportunity. The presentation will cover various components of an inter-tribal pow wow, highlighting the historical, social, religious, and symbolic significance of its activities — including performance of Indian drum and flute music, story telling and traditional dances. Tunica stories and songs will be featured on the program. Students from kindergarten to high school age are welcome. For more information about the Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow or other upcoming events at Paragon Casino Resort, please visit www.tunicapowwow.org or call 1-800-946-1946.