IACA Journal, Spring 2014 - page 12

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IACA Journal | Spring 2014
vest or blanket has two colors: red and blue, with the blue being
worn over the right shoulder and the red being worn over the
left to symbolize the heart.
Like other powwow dancing, Gourd Dancing is performed in
a circular arena. The drum can be placed on the side or in the
center of the arena. The dancers take their place around the pe-
rimeter of the area. During most of the song, the dancers dance
in place, lifting their feet in time to the drumbeats, and shaking
their rattles from side to side. At certain points in the singing,
the drum beat changes to harder beats and at this point, the
dancers will dance in place. When it changes to softer beats the
dancers will dance a short distance from their spots.
Typically, the dance begins in the afternoon, and the open-
ing song (referred to as a “Calling Song”) is sung first. The
head singer will determine how many songs are sung in a set.
Usually the slower paced songs are sung in the beginning and
progressively faster songs are sung as the gourd dance progress-
es. When the gourd dance draws to a close, a fast song known
is usually the last to be performed.
Patterned after powwows in Oklahoma, the Natchez Powwow
has become a tradition in the Mississippi-Louisiana area, link-
ing our modern society with this area’s past cultures and the
rich legacy of the Natchez Indians.
Article by staff writer, with thanks to Jim Barnett, Director, Division of
Historic Properties, Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History.
Natchez Indian ceremonial mounds at the Grand Village. The
mounds date to c. A.D. 1200.
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