NSU Folk Festival 2011

Image adapted from artwork of Gary White Deer, Natchitoches NSU Folk Festival.

The 32nd Annual (2011) NSU Folk Festival, The Tribes Remain: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Cultures was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion of Louisiana American Indian folk artisans and a rare chance for traditional craftspeople from tribes originating in the southeast to come together in Northwest Louisiana.  The announcement for, and explanation of the festival was made  in Louisiana Folk. Because of a problem in the Prather Coliseum, the event had to be moved to the smaller Friedman Student Union building and surrounding area.

I was honored and privileged to co-present with Marjorie Battiste on a panel entitled “Foodways: The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash; and other gifts.” Mrs. Battiste is a recognized Koasati (Coushatta) food historian, pine needle basketmaker,and storyteller. She was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Master Folk Artists in 1982. She makes sofke and some of the best frybread I’ve ever eaten.

The festival featured Caddo singing and dance, Chickasaw stomp dance, and a stickball exhibition game played by the Mississippi Choctaw. I was happy to have my tribe represented. The Rising Sun youth group had a table and sold drinks as a fundraiser.

A schedule of the events is here. Sonny Carter took some great photos of the event, and   Historic Natchitoches also ran a story. The festival, which originated in 1980, has been awarded  “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” four times by the Southeast Tourism Society. I go to powowws a few times a year, but events like this are very rare anywhere, let alone Louisiana. I think the last time the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival had an event like this was the 1980s.  In my opinion an event like this should be held annually.