Tunica-Biloxi Reservation hosts 19th annual Pow Wow

Native American festivities fill the event with authentic food, arts, music and more

Singer Pura Fé will give two performances Saturday at the 19th annual Pow Wow celebration at the Chief Joseph “Alcide” Pierite Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in Marksville.

Native American dancers and artisans from across the country are expected at the Friday-Sunday event. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Paragon Casino Resort are hosts for the cultural festivities, filled with authentic food, arts and crafts, dancing, singing and more.

Pura Fé, a native of New York, 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. In the late 1970s, she began singing with local bands and recording jingles. In 1995, she released her first solo album, the R&B inspired “Caution to the Wind,” written and produced by James McBride on Shanachie Records. 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 has appeared on several soundtracks, including “The World Festival of Sacred Music,” and on the Showtime series, “The L-Word.” She won a NAMMY (Native American Music Award) for best female album in 2006 and the L’Academie Charles Cros for best world album. In late 2009, she released “Full Moon Rising” for DixieFrog Records and toured extensively throughout Europe. Pura Fé’s fifth solo album, a live double CD titled “A Blues Night in North Carolina,” was released in the spring of 2011.

On Saturday and Sunday, Native dancers 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-plus) will be expanded into four categories including Northern and Southern styles. The Chicken Dance has become a standard category for adults (Age 18+).

On Friday evening, the Pow Wow Committee will host a Special Mystery Dance Contest where three categories will be randomly selected to compete at 8 p.m. Participants will vie for $1,000 winner-take-all prize in each dance category.

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.

Open to the general public, daily admission to the Pow Wow is $5. The fee for children 5 and younger is $3. Spectators will be treated to other performances by flutist Hawk Henries and the Tunica-Biloxi Legend Keepers.

For more information, visit tunicapowwow.org or call (800) 946-1946.