Hundreds attend powwow
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JACKSON - Matthew Rasonako’he Montour made his way inside a circle fashioned by blanket-covered picnic benches and folding chairs. He stood out from everyone else in the crowd.
White and black paint had been carefully applied to his face. Adorning his head was a homemade headdress of black and white crow, turkey and eagle feathers. In his hand, he carried a dance stick covered with otter hair and topped with the head of an eagle.
Montour, a member of the Mohawk Six Nations, was asked to be the Head Man Dancer at the inaugural Felicianas Native American Powwow Saturday. It was a great honor that he had been given at many powwows in the past.
Hundreds of people crowded into the pavilion of the Centenary State Historic Site in Jackson for the event.
“It’s small but it has a lot of spirit,” Montour said of Jackson’s new powwow. “It comes from the heart.”
As the drummer began to play, no one moved out of respect for Montour. Once he began to step, the others soon followed suit.
Master of ceremonies Ken Dixon invited everyone into the circle to join in the Friendship, or Round Dance.
“You don’t have to be round and you don’t have to be brown,” he told the audience.
Jackson resident Valinda Powers accepted the invitation. She said she had never been to a powwow, let alone danced at one.
“It was awesome,” she said afterward. “It was everything I expected.”
Powers, as many others at the powwow, attended with her family. The crowd feasted on traditional Native American foods such as manchu corn, Indian tacos and flat bread.
Powwows are a way to reconnect with family and friends while getting to know new people.
They are characterized by storytelling and elaborate choreography performed by dancers in colorful, mostly handcrafted Native American regalia.
It was Susan Dardard who decided residents in the Felicianas should have their own powwow. She said the area once belonged to the Houma Indians.
“When people garden or it rains, arrowheads come up,” she said.
Dardard’s husband, Joe Dardard, is Native American. Susan Dardard said that through him, she discovered her native side.
“This is how I say ‘I love you’ — by bringing people together,” she said.