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Cultures on display Saturday

Part of the beauty of traveling is meeting people from different cultures and learning about their background in how they live.

Unfortunately, some folks never get the opportunity to experience new things or meet people from diverse backgrounds. That is their loss and they will never know just what they have missed.

Native American Cultural Day is Saturday at Cassidy Park. The event is a unique opportunity for local folks to get out and experience the rich culture and history of Native Americans without having to travel a great distance.

As a youngster, my first experience seeing real live “Indians” up close was at Mary Springs Church of God of Prophecy in Gloster, Miss., where the Cloud Indian Family performed. I remember one of the singers asked parents to allow the children to get closer to the stage since some of the children might not have seen what “Indians” looked like before. The church was packed.

During my high school years, my family and I attended the wildly popular Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia, Miss. Watching the stickball games at the time made football games look pretty tame.

There might not be any stickball games Saturday, but I’m sure there will be enough entertainment for everybody to enjoy. Seven Louisiana tribes will be here, including the Coushatta, Chitimacha, Jena Band of Choctaws, Tunica-Biloxi, United Houma Nation, Clifton Choctaw and Choctaw Apache.

The event is hosted by the Museums of Cassidy Park and the Intertribal Council of Louisiana Institute for Indian Development Inc. Native American Cultural Day is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

“It’s going to be a tremendous day Saturday,” Museums of Cassidy Park Director Lorraine Bourn said Wednesday night before the Bogalusa City Council meeting. “It was the tribes’ suggestion that for it all to be free. They said they didn’t want anyone to miss it simply because they couldn’t afford it.”

Bourne said those who attend the event will experience Native American crafts, dances and replicas of dwellings. I’m particularly interested in observing the stomp dances. I’m sure some people have predetermined ideas of the performances from watching those Wild West shows on television.

Museums of Cassidy Park Board President Jo Ann Miller is a member of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe and is coordinating the event. Her father and grandfather were tribal chiefs.

There will be a chance to see if they have any Native American ancestry by filling out a genealogical research questionnaire. The day will hopefully set aside some “Indian’ stereotypes.. That is what Saturday is all about.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer for The Daily News. He can be reached at 732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews