Southern Miss Powwow Returns

On Saturday, Oct. 8, Southern Miss Powwow returned to campus. The event was managed by Dr. Tammy Greer and Jenna Dittman of the Golden Eagle Intertribal Society. Native American tribes from across Mississippi came together for the event. 

A powwow is a large social inter-tribal gathering featuring music, dancing and celebrations of Native American culture. However, they are not exclusive to Native Americans. This event was free and open to everyone. Attendees were from a variety of backgrounds, as well as Native Americans from tribes. This included the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Porch Creek, the United Houma Nation, and more. 

The tradition came to the school thanks to Southern Miss alumni Joe Bohannon, who also founded the GEIS. Since then, Southern Miss has held pow wows for over a decade, mostly off campus. This year’s powwow is the first since the pandemic began, and the first to happen on-campus in several years. 

Psychology professor and GEIS director and advisor Dr. Greer spoke on what she hoped people, regardless of their background, took away from the event.   

“…we can gather and commonly celebrate something, even if we’re not the same – even if we don’t understand it…even if it’s not our culture and we don’t quite understand it, we can celebrate for that culture,” Greer said. 

There were many opportunities for non-natives to see and learn about Native American culture. In addition to the festivities, there were vendors, stands to make spirit sticks and corn husk dolls, free fry bread tacos, and more. Music and drums blasted from the center dance arena as gourd dancers, jingle dancers, and more moved through the circle throughout the day. After the final closing, attendees were invited to enjoy the remaining food.  

Jenna Dittman, graduate student and GEIS secretary, recalled one of her favorite parts of the powwows – the connections people make. “My favorite part is when everybody’s getting food and talking and we get to go around and make our rounds, be paying our respects, or just making connections with different tribes…,” she said.