Jeannie Tomlinson currently serves as a patient access representative at the Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group clinic in Walker. She has been employed with our health system for more than a year.
Tomlinson is a member of the Adai Caddo Tribe of Robeline, Louisiana, and one of her favorite family traditions is going to her tribe’s powwow. She also enjoys attending other tribes’ powwows around the state as a way to celebrate her heritage.
Having Pride in Her Heritage
Native American Heritage Month is important to Tomlinson because she sees it as an opportunity for others to learn about her heritage.
“My heritage is a matter of pride for me. I readily share it with others. I want people to know I am Native American and my tribe’s name,” she says.
Learning About the Native American Culture
“One food that is often mentioned in Native American culture is fry bread,” Tomlinson says. “While I enjoy fry bread, I don’t eat it that often. I try not to eat much fried foods.”
Tomlinson shares how long hair on Native Americans isn’t just hair. Long hair has different meanings for different tribes, and some prefer that their hair not be touched without permission. Some Natives believe their hair holds energy/power and if someone touches it, it can disrupt the energy.
What are Powwows?
Tomlinson describes how powwows are much like what we see at a festival but only more dancing.
“There is competitive dancing and ceremonial dancing,” she says. “There is nothing like hearing the drums at a powwow. Most vendors and participants at a powwow make their own regalia (ornate or decorative clothing). If they didn’t personally make it, it was purchased from a Native who made it. Often times the items used to make the clothing came from animals such as deer hide and deer toes.”
Did You Know?
There are four federally recognized Native American Tribes in Louisiana. Those tribes are: The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and The Chitimacha Tibe of Louisiana. There are five state recognized tribes in Louisiana: The CaddoAdai, The Choctaw-Apache, The Clifton-Choctaw, The Four Winds Cherokee and The United Houma Nation.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally recognized American Indian tribe living within the state of Mississippi.