OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The 1699 Historical Society's Weekend of Discovery drew hundreds to Fort Maurepas Park to witness a reenactment of the discovery of Ocean Springs. 1699 Historical Society Chair Stopher Haug believes remembering the city's history is important for the whole region.
"We think that it's really important to bring this part of the city and the region's history to life because this event really precipitated all of the culture and heritage that we enjoy here today," Haug said.
As D'Iberville, Bienville, and a group of others make their way to the beach, the story of this first meeting is narrated to the crowd looking on. And this year was a first as members of the Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw tribe portrayed the natives and greeted D'Iberville on the shoreline.
"Well this is a tremendous thing for our tribe," said Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw member Terry White Eagle Ladnier. "For so many years our people had to stay out of the way, stay out of the spotlight, and we appreciate being invited. And it's a big tremendous thing for our tribe to be able to come and participate in this, and so many other people are a lot more receptive than they've ever been before. And our people are starting to come back out and be recognized and starting to mingle more than they had in the past."
For Haug, the inclusion of the Live Oak Choctaws was particularly important.
"I think that Native Americans in the past have participated," he said. "But this time we had the Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw. We were so excited to have a partnership with them where they could participate and represent the Native Americans."
Four of those Native Americans, from the Eley tribe, are direct descendants of the natives who greeted D'Iberville on the shoreline.
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph played this year's D'Iberville. He says the weather plus the crowd made taking part in the reenactment a truly special occasion.
"Well, looking at the whole crowd, and the fun they're having, and the interaction with the people on the beach coming up here, everybody's just happy to be here, and it's a great thing for Ocean Springs," said Randolph. "It's a time that celebrates for the Native Americans and the people that settled this area to come together. It's a special day. "