Jazz Fest includes Native American music
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mixed in among the jazz, Cajun, blues and zydeco flowing from the stages here are the singing, chanting and drumming of Native American acts featuring dancers donned in colorful feathers and fringe.
Louisiana Native Americans have long been represented at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but this is the first year the focus on the culture has been expanded to include tribal nations from elsewhere in the United States, as well as Canada and Latin America.
At the center of the festival is a makeshift "village" with a tepee, a thatched hut made of palmetto branches and an open fire where demonstrators cook traditional Native American dishes such as squash with wild rice and hominy with black walnuts.
The village is also filled with music and festive drum and hoop dances, and features music sets by singer Pura Fe, flutist Robert Mirabel, and others.
In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo, Ken Duncan Jr., with the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, leads a dance at the Cultural Exchange Pavilion celebrating Native American culture during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, in New Orleans. Louisiana Native Americans have long been represented at Jazz Fest, but this is the first year the focus on the culture has been expanded to include tribal nations from elsewhere in the United States, as well as Canada and Latin America. (AP Photo/Doug Parker)
Roughly 50 nations are represented at the 2013 festival, which continues through Sunday.
"The main purpose is to show the diversity of the Native American culture," said Gray Hawk Perkins, a New Orleans native of Choctaw and Houmas tribal descent. "That's what this is giving us a chance to do, to see how much sometimes we're alike but often see how much we are different."
On Thursday, crowds braved scattered showers. Through a short downpour, New Orleans singer Mia Borders sang "Mississippi Rising."
"I'm a child of the bayou, Southern through and through ... The tide is rising. Don't wash us away," she sang, wielding an electric guitar before a crowd thinned by the rain.
Borders dedicated the song to her hometown and professed her excitement at her Jazz Fest debut, even if it was in the rain.
"I made it, Momma!" she shouted to the crowd.