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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 17, 2001 - Issue 49


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Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe Spends Day at Trace


 by Sandi P. Beason Daily Journal-November 11, 2001

art Stomp Dance by Jerome Tiger
North East Mississippi - For the nearly 100 who gathered Saturday morning to see the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe perform, the day's events didn't disappoint.

"We're here to show our culture and tradition through dances, songs and stomp dancing or social dancing," said Larry Seawright of Ada, Okla.

Most Chickasaw live in the Oklahoma area, he said, but since Mississippi is the nation's homeland, "this is like a homecoming for us," he said.

When most people think of Native American dancing, he said, they think of the "pow-wow" dances of Western movies. The Chickasaw, like the four other civilized tribes, are better known for their social dancing, Seawright said.

Women usually keep time with "shakers" - traditionally made of turtle shells - attached to their legs, and the men sing and lead, he said.

"We're also telling stories that have been passed down from generation to generation that go along with our history and background," Seawright said.

The dance troupe was invited to perform at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor's Center on Saturday, since "they are an integral part of our history here," said Katherine Brock, interpretive specialist for the Trace.

"There were almost 100 people here waiting at 9 a.m.," Brock said.

The Trace has a partnership with the Chickasaw Nation, she said, and the performers were encouraged to come "to protect our cultural resources."

For spectators, it was a learning experience as well as a good show.

"You learn a lot of things you didn't know about Indians," said Joan Royce of the Brewer community, who brought her great-granddaughter Alexandra, 7.

During the program, members of the Chickasaw Nation taught the crowd how to say certain words in Chickasaw, including colors, animals and numbers.

"Most of the stories have never been written, just handed down verbally," said Henry Hickman, who shared a handful of stories. "There is a reason for every story. When I heard them growing up, I had either done something wrong or I had earned it.

"I just enjoy hearing them."
The Chickasaw Nation welcomes you to visit our great land, experience our culture and learn of our history.

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