“…Walk in the paths of our ancestors with honor and dignity…” The 2022 Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana Third Annual Pow-Wow is a Success!
NSU’s football tailgate was the scene of the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana’s third annual Pow-Wow Saturday, November 12. Several hundred visitors attended the event, enjoying Native American foods, watching demonstrations of Native American Dancing, drumming, and spoken word poetry as well as enjoying the tribe’s warm hospitality. The dancers wore ceremonial clothing and represented native dance culture common to North American tribes.
There were archery and stickball demonstrations. Stickball, a game from which lacrosse originated, was originally called “ishtaboli”, or “little brother of war” in the original indigenous language. The game was originally used to settle disputes between groups using a method short of war. Unlike modern lacrosse, stickball is played without helmets or pads. While no longer used as an alternative to war, stickball tournaments keep this traditional game alive.
In addition to the drumming, dancing and poetry, Ms. Rochelle Redbone spoke of raising awareness of missing and exploited indigenous women. She pointed out that indigenous women suffer homicide at higher rates than women from other groups. She was there to educate and raise awareness of this serious problem
One of the Tribe’s farthest flung members, Mssr. Clement Lagouarde of Bordeaux, France once again came to Natchitoches to attend the gathering, as he has for each of the previous Pow-Wows. His great grandfather was from Natchitoches and enlisted in the U.S. Army during WWI. While serving in France, he met Clement’s great grandmother, Mme. Fernande Jasinsky. Lagouarde discovered his Natchitoches tribal roots while researching his family history. He also designed the tribe’s seal and is a council chief. This year, he was joined by cousins Camille Lagouarde and Marion Segui. Mme. Lagouarde teaches at New Orleans’ Ecole Bilingue while Mme, Segui is a translator living in Bordeaux. Other attendees at the gathering hail from every area of Louisiana, as well as Texas, Oklahoma, California, Tennessee, and Illinois.
The tribe has lost much of its culture over the past few centuries, a time it was not allowed to exist openly. The Pow-Wows are one step of the tribe’s quest to reclaim its legacy and culture. The Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana members are documented descendants of Natchitoches’ original Native American population who were here when Bienville came up the river. Over the years, they intermarried with the French and Spanish settlers. According to tribe member, Janet Melton, “They hid in plain sight” after the Indian Removal Act of 1835. The Tribe, long thought to be extinct, actually never was and is coming forth to reclaim its heritage. Currently, the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana has over 1600 members.
This paragraph from the program from the tribe’s 2018 state recognition ceremony aptly sums up the tribe’s quest:
“Today, the Natchitoches Indians, in honor of our ancestors, have come out of hiding and have reestablished our tribe openly. A Constitution and Bylaws are in place and a tribal council has been appointed. Our people have joined together to walk in the paths of our ancestors with honor and dignity.”
The Pow-Wows are fun and educational events that are part and parcel of what makes living here so special. May there be many more in the upcoming years.