KINDER — Native American festivities will fill the Pavilion at the Coushatta Casino Resort this weekend, June 13-14, with authentic food, dancing, music and crafts as hundreds of Native American dancers, singers, drummers and artisans from across the United States and Canada take part in the 19th annual Coushatta Pow Wow.
The Pow Wow is one of the largest in North America, and a one-of-a kind experience, according to organizer Crystal Williams.
“This is also one of Louisiana’s biggest cultural events of Native Americans,” Williams said. “A lot of people think that just because American Indians aren’t in history books, we aren’t here anymore. The Pow Wow shows we are still here and practice our culture and traditions and continue to speak our language.”
The Native Americans will showcase their customs, culture and history during the two-day event that kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through midnight Saturday.
“Over time the Pow Wow has evolved into a colorful get together of tribes from different nations, each showcasing their own traditions, culture and language,” Williams said.
“For the spectators this means they get to see the modern life of the American Indians and learn more about our culture. We are all from different tribes, but we share in the same spirit of dancing, singing and celebrating our nation.”
Tribes are expected from Canada, Minnesota, Oklahoma and other mid-west states. The Northern Cree of Alberta, Canada will attend for the first time this year, she said.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Friday with the ceremonial Gourd Dance to bless the dance ground. The dance is led by veterans who many see as warriors, Williams said.
“They will bless the dance ground before the big dance,” she said.
Gourd Dances will also be held at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday.
The highlight of the Pow Wow is the Grand Entry, a rhythmic march that opens the competitions with dancers dressed in full regalia accompanied by drums and singers.
“This is the grand entrance of all the dancers in all the categories from elders to babies,” Williams said. “It’s really a beautiful sight to see with all the colors, beads and feathers of the traditional clothing.”
Grand Entry will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and noon and 7 p.m. Saturday.
Native dancers will also compete for thousands of dollars of prize money. Dance category styles include traditional, jingle dress, fancy shawl, fancy dance, grass dance and the newest category men’s chicken dance.
Categories are divided into a dozen age groups for both male and female.
Most of the dances have legends behind them, Williams said. Those legends will be explained before each dance and on the program, she said.
Nearly a dozen Native American drum groups will also compete for more than $40,000 in cash prizes.
The Pow Wow Marketplace will feature more than 50 vendors offering authentic American Indian crafts including jewelry, pottery, baskets and artwork.
It will also feature traditional Coushatta foods including fry bread and Indian tacos. Jambalaya, gumbo and other regional favorites will also be available.
For a schedule of events and more information go to www.coushattapowwow.com
The Pow Wow is open to the public.
General admission at the gate is $5 per day with children 6 years and under free.
The Pavilion is located at 777 Coushatta Drive behind the casino, five miles north of Kinder on U.S. 165.