Just down the road from Longwood, we attended a Pow Wow of several different Native American tribes, gathered at the site of the long-vanished Natchez community. A Boy Scout Camporee was also in attendance, with tents here and there in the surrounding woods.
It was an unseasonably warm day, but budding hardwoods dappled the surrounding booths of Native American crafts and food-vendors with shade.
Every possible Southern-fried thing (including pickles, Twinkies, and funnel cake), lemonade, sweet-tea, sausage, corn-dogs, and tacos distracted people from the heat and fueled the circular processions and dances out in the open field.
The 4-beat-per-second drumming of a great pow-wow drum became the heart of the event, occasionally hit harder for emphasis by the many elders honored with the task. Participants in handsome Native regalia, accompanied by the rhythmic ring of knee and ankle straps of brass bells, punctuated the otherwise prosaic crowd of T-shirted tourists and khaki-clad scouts.
Flanking the pow-wow activities in the field, rose two ancient green mounds of the Natchez. The larger one had once been the dwelling-place of the Great Sun chief, and now provided people a fine overlook on the gathering below, as well as a serious grassy roll-down for small boys.
These mounds would be the first of many more we’d see later on the Natchez Trace.