Native Americans unite for powwow

Photo by LANCE HARRIS -- Native American dancers Jason Skinner, from left, Greg Boone, Chris Bryant, George Hoyt and Sean McGovern dance during the posting of the colors at a past Louisiana Indian Heritage Association Powwow. Show caption
Photo by LANCE HARRIS -- Native American dancers Jason Skinner, from left, Greg Boone, Chris Bryant, George Hoyt and Sean McGovern dance during the posting of the colors at a past Louisiana Indian Heritage Association Powwow.

Native American dancers from around the country will converge on Gonzales this weekend for the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association’s 46th Annual Fall Powwow at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

“We’ve got dancers coming from Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, just from all over the place,” said Deb Milam, LIHA treasurer.

In the facility’s Arena B, gourd dancing, a type of ceremonial dance, will take place at noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, and at noon Sunday, Nov. 18. At 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, visitors can watch the grand entry.

“That’s where all of the dancers parade into the arena. It’s pretty impressive. It’s pretty spectacular,” Milam said.

Attracting up to 1,000 people each year, this marks the powwow’s fifth year at Lamar Dixon.

“Previous to that, we were at campgrounds on the Northshore, and golly, there was a run of about five dances, we would have them spring and fall, and the rains were terrible. We were outside and there was not an indoor alternate, and that’s what really prompted us to move to Lamar Dixon,” Milam said. “The facility is just wonderful for us.”

The cultural festival celebrating Native American traditions is both an educational and entertaining activity that can be experienced by families and individuals of all ages, according to a LIHA news release There will also be food and a variety of vendors offering authentic crafts. Craftsmen will show how traditional Native American baskets are made, as well as various beading techniques. A flint knapper will demonstrate his skills, also.

“It’s strictly a fun powwow. Just a lot of good dancing, and a wonderful drum group is coming,” Milam said.

The powwow is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is an alcohol and drug free event. No ice chests are allowed. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. There is an admission fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children.

LIHA, a state chartered non-profit organization, is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of high quality Native American dancing, singing, arts, and crafts. The LIHA Powwow provides the local Native American community the opportunity to showcase their traditions and invites the general public to learn about and also enjoy those traditions.