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2 years ago

thank you Debra

REQUEST EAGLE FEATHERS:
2 years ago

ALL Native American FAMILIES can request EAGLE FEATHERS from the BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT or the Bureau of INDIAN AFFAIRS online there is application. I used to work for the local BIA & BLM Office in Portland OREGON. THey have Freeze Dried Eagles of all KINDS, GOLDEN, Bald eagles & MUCH MORE. You can request them for NATIVE AMERICAN CULTuRAL Purposes. THEY WILL GIVE YOUR FAMILY one full eagles. CHECK THIS OUT TODAY, this can HELP YOU I THINK. From Debra rincon Lopez in PORTLAND OREGON USA.

NATIVE AMERICAN HEADRESSES
3 years ago

AS A LAKOTA ARTIFACTS FOUNDATION; I POSESS A FEW HEADRESSES. NOT SURE THAT THEY WOULD BE THE SAME AS CHOCTAW. BASICALLY, YOU NEED SOME RED TRADE CLOTH, ERMINE OR MINK,EAGLE FEATHERS AND A GOOD PIECE OF BEAD WORK,SEED BEADS ARE THE OLDEST. THESE PRODUCTS ARE RARE ON THE MARKET,AS EAGLE FEATHERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE SOLD OR TRADED. COULDN'T EVEN O GIVE THEM AS GIFTS. HOWEVER, HAWK FEATHERS, OWL DANDER, AND FELT CLOTH,WOULD DO NICELY. RIBBONS TO REPLACE THE MINK PELTS ,ALSO A GOOD REPLACEMENT. PLEASE PM ME,IF YOU NEED FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS ON ASSEMBLY.

choctaw wedding traditions
3 years ago

I have a friend who is choctaw, but was not raised traditionally. She wants a choctaw headdress to wear in her wedding, but we cant find a pattern, how to make it, or what to make it from. Can anyone help?

5 years ago
 

Peace Pipe
 

by Ernest Thompson Seton

The Chief rises from the Council Rock and calls: "Ho, Cannungpa Yuha, 0-hay!" ( Oh, Pipe-bearer, bring the Pipe!). Singing of the "Zuni Sunrise Call," is heard far away.

Then enters the Herald, staff in hand. He faces the Chief, and sings the Sunrise Song again, but omitting every other line which is softly sung off-stage as an echo.

Enter in procession 6 or 8 maidens, slowly, silently to tom-tom beaten in slow six-part time by the leader or Medicine Man. They walk with eyes on the ground, arms straight down at their sides, flat hands bent out, palms down. They are followed by a very small boy or girl, dressed in white, bearing the Peace Pipe aloft horizontally and held in two hands, palms up.

The Chief stands with folded arms as they file in, and form 3 (or 4) on the Chief's left, 3 (or 4) on his right, the Pipe-bearer near him on his right, the Medicine Man on his left.

The Maidens then sing the "Prayer of the Warriors before Smoking the Pipe," hands held low forward, palms up, then raised high, palms facing in, for the first line; hands lowered then crossed on breast, for second line; hands forward in beseeching attitude, for third line; raised high, then arms folded, for the fourth line. The head is thrown back until the end of the last line as the arms are folded, when the eyes are cast upon the ground.

The Chief takes the Pipe from the Bearer. The Maidens sit down, cross-legged and cross-armed, in the places where they stood, and the Chief proceeds.

Kneeling at the fire, he lights the Pipe. As soon as it is going, he lifts it grasped in both hands, with the stem toward the sky, saying:

"To Wakonda, the one Great Spirit; that his wisdom be with us. Hay-oon-kee-ya. Noon-way." All answer, in a long intonation, and slightly raising the flat right hand: "Noon-way." (Amen, or this is our prayer.)

Chief: "To Maka Ina, Mother Earth, that she send us food. Hay-oon-kee-ya. Noon-way."

All (as before) : "Noon-way."

Chief: "To Weeyo-peeata, the Sunset Wind, that he come not in his strength upon us." (Blows smoke and holds the stem to the West.)

"To Wazi-yata, the Winter Wind, that he harm us not with his cold." (Pipe as before to the North.)

"To Weeyo-hinyan-pata, the Sunrise Wind, that he trouble us not with his rain." (Pipe as before to the East.)

"To Okaga, the Hot Wind, that he strike us not with his fierce heat." (Pipe as before to the South.) "Hay-oon-kee-oon-ee-ya-snee. Noon-way."

All: "Noon-way."

Then the Chief stands, holding the Pipe high level in two hands and proclaims aloud

"Wakan-tanka Wakan ne-kay-chin, chandee eeya pay-yawo. That is, Great Spirit, by this Pipe, the symbol of Peace, Council and Brotherhood, we ask thee to be with us and take part in our Council."

All intone a long "Noon-way."

The maidens stand, the Chief hands the Pipe to the Bearer, who holds it high and marches off, followed by the others, singing the "Zuni Sunset Song,". The Herald leaves last of all.

5 years ago

Choctaw Indian customs, ceremonies and traditions

The Choctaw customs developed in the Missippian area: Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. They were forced off their land and into Oklahoma, where their decedents still live. The Choctaw are related to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole and their languages and customs are similar.
Features
The Choctaw were known as one of the civilized tribes, which meant that they very easily adapted to European customs, blending them in with their own centuries old traditions. They were farmers and hunters. The women did the farming and the men the hunting.
Types
Clothing
The Choctaw women wore dresses made of deerskin and decorated with things like beads. They were not as long as those of other tribes. As they began to trade with the white man, they added dresses made of cloth, but they always kept their traditional ones. Today, when the Choctaw want to dress in traditional garb, they use a combination of their traditional blankets and homemade garments made from cloth.

Games
Many of the early Indian tribes developed games and the Choctaw were no different. Many of their games are similar to the ones we play today. They played a game called stickball which actually is similar to today's La Crosse and they played against other tribes instead of waging war. Another popular game was called Chunke in which a flat disk was thrown down an alley and the object was to be the first to hit it with a stick. Twist that around a bit and you have the modern game of bowling.

Houses
The Choctaw houses were models of primitive architecture. They were round, with the frame being made of rivercane, wood and vines which were tied at the top to form the dome roof. The exterior was a mixture of plaster and thatch.

Ceremonies
The Choctaw ceremonies were more civil than religious in nature. They did not have an organized religion before the missionaries came although they did believe in good and bad spirits. Dances were very common and they had elaborate wedding and funeral ceremonies.
Significance
The Choctaw culture remained intact even though they were forced from their homeland to Indian Territory. The Choctaw was one of only about five of the Indian Nations that were known to easily adapt to western ways, and blend it with their traditional culture. Many of the older tribal members will wear the traditional dress in every day life. The younger, however, will only wear it for ceremonies.
Effects
The Choctaw culture reaches far beyond the reservations of today. They operate resorts and casinos and their culture is a big part of the tourist experience.
Stinging Nettle
5 years ago
American Indian women believed drinking nettle tea during pregnancy strengthened the fetus, eased delivery and helped stop bleeding after childbirth. Nursing mothers used nettle tea to increase their milk production.

Today, nettles is recognized as high in vitamin C and a rich source of chlorophyll. Constituents include histamine, formic acid, chlorophyll, glucoquinine, iron and vitamin C. Nettles acts as an astringent, a diuretic and a tonic notes David Hoffmann, author of The Herbal Handbook (Healing Arts Press).


"Nettles are one of the most widely applicable plants we have," he notes. "They strengthen and support the whole body."

In a 1990 randomized, double-blind clinical study reported in Planta Medica: Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, researchers noted that freeze-dried stinging nettles relieved allergy symptoms in over half of the participating patients. Indeed, 58% of the participants taking two 300 mg capsules of freeze-dried Urtica dioica for one week experienced reduced symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. (Planta Medica 1990 (56):44-47)

5 years ago

Drum circle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A drum circle is any group of people playing (usually) hand-drums and percussion in a circle. They are distinct from a drumming group or troupe in that the drum circle is an end in itself rather than preparation for a performance. They can range in size from a handful of players to circles with thousands of participants.

In 1991, during testimony before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart stated:

Typically, people gather to drum in drum "circles" with others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entrainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.

5 years ago

Cherokee

The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony took place after the grass began to grow and the trees began to put forth new leaves, around the first new moon after spring equinox.

This festival initiated the planting season and included predictions concerning the crop success or failure. It lasted seven days and included dancing and the re-lighting of the sacred fire by the fire maker. All the home fires were put out and then rekindled from the sacred fire’s coals.

Choctaw Marriage Ceremony and Tradition
5 years ago

by: W.B. Morrison

Much has been written concerning the beauty and charm of the dusky Indian maiden of long ago, with her long black hair, soft brown eyes, and a lithe body clothed in a neat dress of beaded doeskin. Doubtless in the earlier days when the Indian was entirely free, and before the evil influences of white civilization had sapped the Red Man's pride and independence, there was more beauty than we find today. But even yet there are many full-blood Indian girls whose physical perfections meet the approval of the critical Caucasian eye. Unfortunately a large proportion of these early beauties soon lose their attractiveness, inclining to corpulence and coarseness of feature as maturity approaches. Cushman, the historian of the Choctaws, speaking of the Choctaw women when the missionaries first came into Mississippi, says: "They were of medium height, beautiful in form, strong and agile in body, strictly honest and truthful, light-hearted and gay, and devoted in their affection to family and friends." In modesty and virtue, no people ever excelled the Choctaw women, and it was a thing almost unknown for one of them to step aside from the path of rectitude and virtue.

Among the Choctaws, as was true of all other American Indians, the women attended to the household duties and what little farming was done, while the men spent their time in war and the chase. The women, young and old, were allowed full liberty, and the village life was such that the young people had full opportunity to make the acquaintance of the opposite sex.

The ancient Choctaws had rather peculiar customs of courtship. When a young man determined to marry, and had decided upon the object of his affections among the maidens of the village, he paid a visit to the home of her parents at some time when it was certain that the young woman, as well as her parents, was at home.

Courteously invited to be seated, he for a time engaged in general conversation with members of the family, apparently indifferent to the presence of the young woman. After a while, however, he slyly threw a pebble or small stick at the maiden in such a way that she would be entirely certain whence it came. She fully understood the messages - Cupid's darts, we might call them. It was the Choctaw warrior's method of proposing marriage. If she approved, the missiles were soon returned in the same manner that they had been sent, accompanied, possibly, by a fleeting glance at the swain from under her long silken eyelashes. If, as sometimes it happened, she disapproved of his advances, the young woman suddenly arose, and with a look of evident disdain, left the room. In either case, nothing further was said or done that day, and with due ceremony the young man soon took his departure.

If the suit had been favorably received, the youthful lover returned within a few days with presents for the girl's parents, and formally asked her hand in marriage. When this consent had been secured, a day was appointed for the wedding, the friends of the contracting parties were invited, and the usual feast prepared.

When the day set for the celebration of the marriage had arrived, another ordeal awaited the eager groom, After the guests had assembled, the young man was placed in one room, the young woman in another and the doors closed. In front of the cabin, a distance of something like three hundred yards was measured off and a pole set up at the farthest end of the course. Then, at a given signal, the door of the bride's room was opened and she began a sort of Atlanta's race towards the goal-post, where many of the friends stood awaiting the outcome.

After she had secured a start so great that she could not be overtaken where she inclined to maintain the advantage, the youth was also released and ran swiftly as a deer to overtake his bride. If for any reason she had changed her mind about becoming his wife, the young woman ran at top speed, and if she reached the goal before the youth overtook her, this was public announcement that the ceremonies were to go no further, and the discomfited swain slunk off as soon as possible to hide his embarrassment. Generally, however, the maiden permitted the lover to overtake her, though sometimes to test his affection right thoroughly, she would maintain a rapid pace until the goal was almost touched. As soon as the youth caught his bride he led her back towards the house. On the way, a bevy of bride's friends met them, took the girl away from him, and seated her on a blanket in front of the house. There, the presents brought were piled around her. It is said that sometimes these presents were snatched away from the bride by the merry crowd - a real case of "Indian giving". The wedding feast was then served, and without more ceremony the young couple were recognized as man and wife.

5 years ago

After a few days the husband selected a spot not too close to another house, preferably near a good spring or running stream, and there erected a little cabin which became his home. A few simple articles of furniture were provided, an iron kettle in which to boil the venison or bear meat, a wooden bowl in which to serve it, and the couple were ready to set up housekeeping. We must not forget also the "ta-ful block". This was a section of log set up outside the door, its top hollowed out like a mortar. In it the maize was pounded preparatory to making "Taful" - generally called "Tom-Fuller" by the white people. In this new home, they "lived happily ever after", for divorce or a broken home was rare among the Choctaws.

White men, especially the French, began at an early date to intermarry among the Choctaws. This accounts for the frequent occurrence of French family names such as Durant, LeFlore and Colbert, among these people. Tradition says that when the first half-breed child was born in the Choctaw Nation, a council was called to discuss the matter, and it was voted to kill the child and to permit no more mixed marriages. Fortunately, this bloody resolution was not acted on.

In later years, after the Choctaws were well settled in Oklahoma, stringent laws were enacted by the tribe in reference to the intermarriage of whites. Such white men had to become citizens of the tribe, forswearing allegiance to the United States or other nation. They, further, had to produce evidence that they were not already married and were required to present a certificate of good moral character, signed by ten Choctaw citizens by blood who had known the applicant for at least twelve months. A fee of twenty-five dollars was charged for the license. With the ever increasing number of white men pressing into Oklahoma, these restrictions were amply justified. Indeed, some of the tribes raised the license fee to one hundred dollars.

Today, the Choctaws are citizens of the United States, and their old customs have disappeared in many cases. The Choctaw of Oklahoma differs in his courtship and marriage in no respect from the white people who have swarmed by the thousands over his beautiful country.

6 years ago
Uses for Sweetgrass in Medicine & Ceremony

Sweetgrass
(adapted from Foster & Duke 1990)

Many Native tribes in North America use sweetgrass in prayer, smudging or purifying ceremonies and consider it a sacred plant. It is usually braided, dried, and burned. Sweetgrass braids smolder and doesn't produce an open flame when burned. Just as the sweet scent of this natural grass is attractive and pleasing to people, so is it attractive to good spirits. Sweetgrass is often burned at the beginning of a prayer or ceremony to attract positive energies.

Densmore (1974) describes that among the Chippewa (Ojibwa), "young people, chiefly young men, carried a braid of sweet grass and cut off 2 or 3 inches of it and burned it for perfume. Young men wore two braids of sweet grass around their necks, the braids being joined in the back and falling on either side of the neck like braids of hair."

Sweetgrass is used to "smudge"; the smoke from burning sweetgrass is fanned on people, objects or areas. Individuals smudge themselves with the smoke, washing the eyes, ears, heart and body. Mi'kmaq have long used sweetgrass as a smudging ingredient, often mixed with other botanicals. Sweetgrass is one of the four medicines which comprise a group of healing plants used by the people in Anishinabe, Bode'wad MI, and Odawa societies. The other three are tobacco, cedar, and sage (Mary Ritchie 1995).

Among the Chippewa wicko'bimucko'si (sweetgrass) is braided and used in pipe-smoking mixtures along will red willow and bearberry, when it is burned, prayers, thoughts and wishes rise with the smoke to the creator who will hear them. Densmore (1974) describes the story of "a hunting incident in which a party of men placed sweet grass on the fire when the camp was in danger of starving and they were going again to hunt. Medicine men kept sweet grass in the bag with their medicinal roots and herbs".

A tea is brewed by Native Americans for coughs, sore throats, chafing and venereal infections. It is also used by women to stop vaginal bleeding and to expel afterbirth. It is warned that because the roots contain coumarin, that sweetgrass tea may be considered a carcinogenic. (Foster & Duke 1990)

6 years ago

Cherokee Stomp Dance

To the Creeks, Cherokees and other Southeastern Indians, the Stomp Dance is affiliated with the Green Corn Ceremony.

The term "Stomp Dance" is an English term which refers to the 'shuffle and stomp' movements of the dance. In the native Muskogee language the dance is called Opvnkv Haco, which can mean 'drunken,' 'crazy,' or 'inspirited' dance. This usually refers to the exciting, yet meditative effect the Dance and the medicine have on the participants.

The dress of most Stomp Dancers is casual but nice. Most Stomp Dancers keep special attire for ceremonial occasions, commonly called regalia by whites, but the physical nature of the dance and outdoor conditions of the dance make comfort more important than flair. Many native people prefer to call their dance clothing their "outfit," and don't really like the word "regalia," which was introduced by anglos. If you really want to offend them, call it a "costume."

Women wear skirts and blouses that usually incorporate traditional patterns. The women wear turtle shell shakers, or shackles on both legs (typically 13 or less on each leg). The shakers are hollowed out shells which have holes drilled in them and are filled with rocks, shot, soda can lids or anythig else that will make them rattle.

The Traditional Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee shell shakers are made of terrapin or box-turtle shells. Following the Trail of Tears terrapin shells were harder to come by and the impoverished Indians had to resort to using condensed milk cans instead. This tradition continues today and most women start out with a set of "cans" before moving up to having their own set of shells.

The men wear blue jeans or slacks and hats which are usually cowboy or ballcap styles, usually with a single eagle, hawk or crane feather in the hat band. The ribbon shirt is the standard ceremonial attire for both men and women, which consists of a loose-fitted tunic decorated with ribbons.



Cheyenne Indian ceremonies
6 years ago

Their great tribal ceremony for generations has been the Sun dance (q. v.), which they themselves say came to them from the Sutaio, after emerging from the timber region into the open plains. So far as known, this ceremony belongs exclusively to the tribes of the plains or to those in close contact with them. The Buffalo head ceremony, which was formerly connected with the Sun dance but has been obsolete for many years, also came from the Sutaio. The modern Ghost-dance religion (q. v.) was enthusiastically taken up by the tribe at its first appearance, about 1890, and the Peyote rite (q. v.) is now becoming popular with the younger men. They also had until lately a Fire dance, something like that credited to the Navaho, in which the initiated performers danced over a fire of blazing coals until they extinguished it with their bare feet. In priestly dignity the keepers of the Medicine-arrow (Cheyenne) and Sun dance (Sutaio) rites stood first and equal.

Choctaw Green Corn festival,
6 years ago

The most important Choctaw religious ceremony was the Green Corn festival, which was both a ceremony of thanksgiving and a means for self-purification. The ceremony occurred during the summer when the kernels of the corn crop filled out and could be roasted and eaten. At the beginning people would have a feast of the previous year's food. The men would then clean public areas and women their households. This was followed by a two day fast in which crimes and social conflicts were discussed with the purpose of allowing them to be forgiven. Finally, the ceremony was concluded with a fire ritual. All fires would be extinguished and the people would fall into total silence. A priest would light a new symbolising the beginning of a new year. Everyone dressed in their finest clothes for feasting and dancing.

The seventh of seven sacred Cherokee cermonies
6 years ago

by Rob Wood

This article represents a brief introduction of the seventh of the seven sacred ceremonies of the ancient Cherokee.

Every seventh year the Uku Dance replaced the Great New Moon ceremony. In this dance the Chief, or Uku, led the nation in a ceremony of thanks giving and rejoicing. At the conclusion of the four day observance, the Chief was "reinvested with his religious and civil powers by his right-hand man. "Uku was one of several titles conferred upon him. During ‘Friends Made’ ceremony, for example, his title meant ‘one who renews heart and body.’ " (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 185) Before the chief performed his dance, he was ritually bathed by his councilors with water warmed by the "Honored Woman." He wore special regalia for the occasion and performed a dance around a specially prepared circle in the center of the square ground. Prior to dancing, the Chief was carried from a specially prepared throne, painted white. His feet were not allowed to touch the ground until he was brought to the circle. As he danced, he moved slowly around the circle, inclining his head to each spectator. Each spectator bowed in turn to the Chief.

As was stated at the start, this is only a brief description of the ancient Cherokee ceremonial cycle. There were also a number of other dances performed for special purposes throughout the year. It is hoped that more information on these, and Cherokee cosmology in general, can be presented in the future.

Sources:

Lewis, Thomas M. N. and Madeline Kneberg. Tribes that Slumber Indians of the Tennessee Region. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, tenth printing 1994; 196 pp.

Mooney, James. History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Asheville, North Carolina, 1992.


© Powersource
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Six of trhe the Seven Ceremonies of the Cherokee
6 years ago

by Rob Wood

This article represents a brief introduction to six opf the seven sacred ceremonies of the ancient Cherokee. For the most part, this information comes from Tribes that Slumber Indians of the Tennessee Region. It is never a good Idea to present information from a single source, especially with such a complex subject; however, time limited the ability to do more research. Undoubtedly, each ceremony deserves several pages. Hopefully, in subsequent articles more in depth research will be possible, and details from a variety of sources can be included.

Two numbers are sacred to the Cherokee. Four is one number, it represented the four primary directions. At the center of their paths lays the sacred fire. Seven is the other and most sacred number. Seven is represented in the seven directions: north, south, east, west, above, bellow, and "here in the center" (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 175), the place of the sacred fire. Seven also represented the seven ancient ceremonies that formed the yearly Cherokee religious cycle. Six of the ceremonies took place every year, the seventh was celebrated every seventh year. They were held between March and November, based on the phases of the crescent or new moon. The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony was the first.

The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony took place "When the grass began to grow and the trees send out their pale new leaves..." (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 176-77), around the first new moon of March. This festival initiated the planting season and incorporated predictions concerning crop success or failure. It lasted seven days and included dancing and the re-lighting of the sacred fire by the fire maker. The ceremony included sacrificing a deer tongue in the fire. All the home fires were extinguished and rekindled from the sacred fire’s coals.

In August came the Green Corn Ceremony. It was performed when the new corn was ripe enough to eat. New corn was not to be eaten until after the ceremony took place. Messengers were sent to notify the towns of the nation about when the celebration would take place. Along the way they gathered seven ears of corn, each from a field of a different clan. After the messengers returned, the chief and his seven councilors fasted for six days. The ceremony began on the seventh. Again, the sacred fire was extinguished and rekindled. As with the First New Moon Ceremony, a deer tongue was sacrificed in the sacred fire. Kernels from the seven ears of corn that had been gathered from the clans were also sacrificed. A powder made from tobacco was sprinkled over the fire. Afterward, the Chief offered a prayer, dedicating the corn to the Creator. Food that was made from the new corn was brought to the townhouse and everyone was fed. The Chief and his councilors could only eat corn from the previous year’s crop for another seven days.

The Ripe Corn Ceremony was held in late September. It was the only ancient ceremony that survived into the 20th century. It celebrated the maturing of the corn crop and was held outdoors in the square ground. In the center of the ground a leafy tree was set. The celebration lasted four days and was also marked by feasting. During the ceremony a special dance was performed by the Chief’s right-hand man, as he danced he carried a green bough. A man’s dance was also performed in which each man carried a green bough. While it was taking place women were excluded from the square.

The third ceremony in the cycle was the Great New Moon Ceremony. It took place in October when the new moon appeared. Since autumn was the season when Cherokee stories say the world was created, it represented the new year celebration. Each family brought some produce from their field to share, such as corn, beans and pumpkins. Ceremonies included dancing, purification by immersing seven times in water, called "going to water" (Mooney, p. 230). The purification ceremony included predictions of health for the coming year by the "priest" using the sacred crystal.

Ten days after the New Moon Ceremony "Atohuna" was held, the reconciliation or "Friends Made" ceremony. The ceremony dealt with relationships between two people of the same or opposite sex. According to Tribes that Slumber, "these relationships were bonds of "eternal friendship in which each person vowed to regard the other as himself as long as they both lived." (p.183) It was a ceremony that was a pledge of universal fraternal or paternal love. It also "entailed reconciliation between those who had quarreled during the previous year." (p. 183) It symbolized the uniting of the people with the Creator and purification of body and mind. The New Moon Ceremony was said to have been the "most profoundly religious" (p. 183) of all the ceremonies. As with other observances, it also involved the rekindling of the sacred fire.

The sixth ceremony in the cycle was the Bounding Bush Ceremony. Few details are now known about this ceremony. Apparently, it was non-religious in nature and was celebrated by feasting and dancing. In the dance, men an women alternated in pairs. Two male leaders carried hoops with four spokes, each with a white feather at the end. The remainder of the dance is described as follows: other pairs in the center and at the end of the dancing column also carried hoops. All of the remaining couples carried white pine boughs in their right hands. The dance movement was circular, and in the center was a man with a small box. He danced around within the circle, singing as he did so, and as he passed by the dancers, each dropped a piece of tobacco in the box...(Lewis & Kneberg, p. 185)

The dance ended at midnight and was repeated on three successive nights. On the fourth night there was a feast before the dancing. Dancing resumed at midnight. This time people dropped pine

Inipi Ceremony...aka sweatlodge
6 years ago

Heya,

Just a note about the Ceremony commonly referred to as a sweat lodge. The cleansing that is spoken about is even deeper than most can imgine without the understanding of what the Ceremony is about. When you attend this purifacation lodge, you cleanse from the inside out, just opposite from when  you shower/bathe; cleaning only the outside surface. It would be like taking a 100 showers and still not accomplishing the same type of cleansing.

Secondly, as you crawl out of the lodge (womb of Mother Earth) you are like a child waiting to be born, gasping for that first breathe of fresh air.

Third.The Ceremony is a give back to Mother earth.  Mother earth gives us water in abundance freely every day (something that we could not survive without), and this is the time inwhich we give her water from our bodies (even if it is in the most minute amount). 

Sweating is something you do as a result of jogging or exercising. Attending Inipi Ceremony is what we do to cleanse and purify ourselves.

NyahWeh
Tommy Youngblood

6 years ago

Cheyenne Indian Customs

 Under their old system, before the division of the tribe, they had a council of 44 elective chiefs, of whom 4 constituted a higher body, with power to elect one of their own number as head chief of the tribe. In all councils that concerned the relations of the Cheyenne with other tribes, one member of the council was appointed to argue as the proxy or "devil's advocate" for the alien people. This council of 44 is still symbolized by a bundle of 44 invitation sticks, kept with the sacred medicine-arrows, and formerly sent around when occasion arose to convene the assembly.

6 years ago

Lakota Wedding Song

6 years ago

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony

The sweat lodge ceremony was not a Cherokee ceremony in times past but some Cherokee now participate in a sweat ceremony..

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony, now central to most Native American cultures and spiritual life, is an adaptation of the sweat bath common to many ethnic cultures found in North and South America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Africa. It was prompted by the influence of European culture with its corrupting effect on native culture. With the introduction of alcohol and the inhumane treatment of native people, the need to re-purify themselves and find their way back to traditional ways of living became evident, as they were becoming increasingly poisoned by European culture. The Sweat Lodge Ceremony was the answer.

Common to all traditions, and the sweat, is the ideal of spiritual cleanliness. Many sweats start with the participants fasting for an entire day of contemplation in preparation for the sweat while avoiding caffeine, alcohol and other unhealthy substances. Prior to entering the sweat the participants usually smudge with sage, sweetgrass or cedar smoke as a means toward ritual cleanliness.

During the purification of one's spirit inside a sweat lodge, all sense of race, color and religion is set aside. As in the Mother's womb and the Father's eyes, we are all the same, we are One. Each of us has the ability to sit with the Creator himself. Healing begins here for dis-ease, physical, emotional, directional and spiritual.

The sweat lodge ceremony usually occurs before and after other major rituals like the "Vision Quest" for example. The aim of the ceremony is to purify one's mind, body, spirit and heart. It is also a "stand alone" ritual that it occurs whenever it is needed. Sweat lodge essentially translates into returning to the womb and the innocence of childhood. The lodge is dark, moist, hot and safe. The darkness relates to human ignorance before the spiritual world and so much of the physical world.

To read a complete description of a sweat lodge ceremony please go to this link: http://www.barefootsworld.net/sweatlodge.html

Because I have damage to my left lung I have no first hand knowledge about a sweat lodge ceremony..

First New Moon of Spring Ceremony
6 years ago

The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony took place "When the grass began to grow and the trees send out their pale new leaves..." (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 176-77), around the first new moon of March.

This festival initiated the planting season and incorporated predictions concerning crop success or failure. It lasted seven days and included dancing and the re-lighting of the sacred fire by the fire maker.

The ceremony included sacrificing a deer tongue in the fire. All the home fires were extinguished and rekindled from the sacred fire’s coals.  

Sun Dance
7 years ago

The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced differently by several North American Indian Nations, but many of the ceremonies have features in common, including dancing, singing and drumming, the experience of visions, fasting, and, in some cases, self-torture.

The Sun Dance was the most spectacular and important religious ceremony of the Plains Indians of 19th-century North America, ordinarily held by each tribe once a year usually at the time of the Summer Solstice.

The Sun Dance last from four to eight days starting at the sunset of the final day of preparation and ending at sunset. It showed a continuity between life and death - a regeneration. It shows that there is no true end to life, but a cycle of symbolic and true deaths and rebirths. All of nature is intertwined and dependent on one another. This gives an equal ground to everything on the Earth.

The Native American tribes who practiced sun dance were:

    The Arapaho, Arikara, Asbinboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros, Ventre, Hidutsa, Sioux, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibway, Sarasi, Omaha, Ponca, Ute, Shoshone, Kiowa, and Blackfoot tribes. Their rituals varied from tribe to tribe.

For many tribes of Plains Indians whose bison-hunting culture flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries, the sun dance was the major communal religious ceremony - the rite celebrates renewal - the spiritual rebirth of participants and their relatives as well as the regeneration of the living Earth with all its components - the ritual, involving sacrifice and supplication to insure harmony between all living beings, continues to be practiced by many contemporary native Americans.

The most renowned priest was also the best Lodge maker. He ran the entire ceremony and would instruct the participant in building a preparatory tepee and give direction to the other tribesmen who would gather the items needed for the construction. Men known for their eminence in their tribe were chosen to look for a tree with a fork in the top. This was to be for the first and center pole of the lodge. When a suitable tree was located a special qualified person was called in to cut the tree down. The fallen tree was then treated just like a fallen enemy. Then, depending on the tribe a bundle was placed on the fork. In the Sioux tribe the bundle contained brush, buffalo hide, long straws with tobacco in them and other religious offerings.

7 years ago

The eldest woman of the camp leads a group of elaborately dressed maidens to the tree to strip off its branches. The next morning, right as the sun is seen over the eastern horizon, armed warriors charge the sun-pole. They attack the tree in effort to symbolically kill it with gunshots and arrows. Once it is dead it is cut down and taken to where the Sun Dance Lodge will be erected. Before raising the sun-pole, a fresh buffalo head with a broad center strip of the back of the hide and tail (is) fastened with strong throngs to the top crotch of the sun-pole. Then the pole is raised and set firmly in the ground, with the buffalo head facing toward the setting-sun." The tree represents the center of the world, connecting the heavens to the earth.

The lodge is then built by the main dancer and his clansmen. The fork of the lodge represents the eagle's nest. The eagle plays a large part in the Sun Dance for it is one of the Plains Indians' most sacred animal. The eagle flies high, being the closest creature to the Sun. Therefore it is the link between man and spirit, being the messenger that delivers prayers to the Wakan-Tanka (god).

In addition to being a messenger, the eagle also represents many human traits. We can see what values and traits these cultures saw as being important in a person by those traits imposed upon such a sacred animal. The eagle is seen as courageous, swift, and strong. He has great foresight and knows everything. "In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world."

7 years ago

During the Sun Dance the eagle is the facilitator of communication between man and spirit. The Crow may be accompanied by a dancing eagle in his visions, the eagle instructing him about the medicine acquired through the vision. The eagle's feathers can cure illnesses. During the Sun Dance a medicine man may use his eagle feather for healing, first touching the feather to the sun-pole then to the patient, transferring the energy from the pole to the ill people.

It is the buffalo, however, that makes up the main theme of the Sun Dance. In various stories it was the buffalo that began the ritual. The Shoshone believe that the buffalo taught someone the proper way to carry out the dance and the benefits in doing it. Buffalo songs, dances, and feast commonly accompany the Sun Dance.

You can see from the symbolic influences of the buffalo in the Sun Dance how important the animal was to Plains Indians' day-to-day life. It was the buffalo that symbolized life for it was the buffalo that gave them quality of life. Plains Indians relied on buffalo for their food, clothing, shelter, and most all utensils from fly swatters to children's toys. These peoples' lives were intertwined with the buffalo's. And this relationship was praised and blessed with the Sun Dance.

The buffalo was incorporated in many ways in the Sun Dance. The Cheyenne held a principle that all essential sacred items in the sun dance (be) related to the buffalo. The Lakota would place a dried buffalo penis against the sun-pole to give virility to the dancers. This reinforces the symbolic meaning of the ceremony as a celebration of the generative power of the sun.

The sun dance was a significant part of the Crow Indian people's spirituality. It was a spiritual retreat in which a large number of participants would fast, pray and dance for a period of days. They asked for answers to events going on in their lives.

The buffalo skull is used as an alter during the Sun Dance. Offerings are presented to the skull, the Cheyenne stuffing the eye and nose sockets with grass, representing bountiful vegetation for the buffalo, which in turn meant healthy buffalo for the people. For others the grass represents bringing the buffalo back to life for grass is what gives the animal life. The Dakota believe that the bones of bison they have killed will rise again with new flesh. The soul was seen to reside in the bones of people and animals, to reduce a living being to a skeleton is equivalent to re- entering the womb of this primordial life - a mystical rebirth.



This post was modified from its original form on 08 Mar, 17:34
7 years ago

During the dance the buffalo also has a great role in the visions. The buffalo may knock down a dancer, or the dancer may challenge the buffalo by charging at it. Passing out for too long means one was too afraid to face the buffalo. One must show courage and stand up to the buffalo before the buffalo finds him worthy to give him what he desires. At a certain point the Crow will notice he is seeing through the buffalo's eyes, that he has become one with the buffalo.

The Sun Dance symbolizes a resolution with the conflict between being a people that view the buffalo as wise and powerful, even closer to the creator than humans, and having to kill and eat them to survive. Making the buffalo sacred, symbolically giving new life to it, and treating it with respect and reverence acts a s a sort of reconciliation. Without the buffalo there would be death, and the Plains Indians saw that the buffalo not only provided them with physical well-being, but kept their souls alive, too.

They also believed that the buffaloes gave themselves to them for food, so the natural course to them would be to offer a part of themselves in return out of gratitude. Thus the sacrifice of the dancers through fasting, thirst, and self-inflicted pain reflects the desire to return something of themselves to nature.

Self-inflicted torture has also come to symbolize rebirth. The torture represents death, then the person is symbolically resurrected. The sun dancer is reborn, mentally and spiritually as well as physically,along with the renewal of the buffalo and the entire universe.

In an effort to curb such practices, the United States government outlawed the Sun Dance in 1904. Among a number of tribes benign forms of the ceremony continued, usually as part of Fourth of July celebrations. There were a few tribes, however, that have attempted to revive the Sun Dance in its original form and meaning.

After the dancers all tear free, or after four days, the Sun Dance ends. The dancers are laid down on beds of sage to continue fasting and to recite their visions to the priest. These visions may hold new songs, new dance steps, or even prophecies of the future. Whatever the outcome, the overall feeling for everyone present is of renewal and balance, the relationships between people and nature once again reaffirmed.

When the camp is ready to leave all sacred items is left in a pile by the sun-pole for they are too sacred to keep for personal use. The Sun Dance Lodge is then left standing for nature to do with it as it wills.


CHEROKEE PRACTICES
7 years ago

By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. 

     The Cherokee tribes, in addition to their "herb treatments," habitually resorted to "sweat baths," along with bleeding, rubbing and cold baths in the nearby running stream. Included in this ritual was the usual wearing of the beads and other ceremonial practices. The sweat bath was utilized most frequently in most all tribes north of Mexico, with the exception of the central and eastern Eskimo. This custom was considered the grand cure-all, which supposedly revitalized their health. Many tribes looked upon this ceremony as a medicinal claim, while the ceremonial purpose was the use of the bath.

     The tribe member who wished to instill within them the virtues of the bath entered a small earth-covered log house simply high enough to allow them to sit down. He quickly disrobed and immediately sat down next to some huge boulders which had been previously been heated by means of a great fire. Over these boulders was poured a concoction of beaten roots of the wild parsnip. The door was then closed disallowing outside air to enter. Results, the patient then sat in the sizzling steam.

     His body quickly was immersed in profuse perspiration by the strong fumes of the mixture. The normal Indian procedure was that he possibly threw himself into the stream before resuming his clothing. However, in later times, this portion of the process was omitted and the patient was saturated with cold water instead. The sweating then took place in his dwelling, the steam being limited under a blanket wrapped around the patient. The smallpox epidemic spread among the Cherokee tribes at the close of the French and Indian War. The sweat bath was then called into demand to ward off the progress of the disease. A complete failure! This resulted in about 300 deaths of the band, while many of the survivors carried the marks of the visitation to the grave.

     The sweat bath, certainly with the accompanying cold water application, was regarded as the great cure-all. This practice seems to have been resorted to by the Indian tribes in all parts of the country whenever contacted by smallpox. The whites introduced this giant epidemic, and consequently, due to this mistaken treatment, many died. One old Indian writer wrote that they died "like rotten sheep" and at times whole tribes were swept away. One of the customs to ward of the miserable disease was to eat the flesh of the buzzard, which was believed to have complete resistance from sickness, due to its polluted smell, which was believed to have kept the disease spirits at a distance.

     The Cherokee's art of bleeding was resorted to in a number of cases, in particular rheumatism and in organizing the ball game. The two methods used in executing the operation were bleeding and scratching, the latter resulting in the preliminary rubbing on the medicine. This procedure consequently brought a direct contact with the blood. The bleeding was performed with a small cupping horn; thus the suction was applied in the ordinary manner, after scarification with a piece of flint or piece of broken glass. Within the drawn blood the shaman declares that he has found a minute pebble, a sharpened stick or other rarities. He repeatedly pretends to suck out such an object that he has asserted has caused the evil within the patient.

7 years ago

Scratching is a painful procedure that is performed with a brier, a flint arrowhead, a rattlesnake's tooth, or even a piece of glass, according to the nature of the ailment. This practice is performed on the young men for the ball game. The shaman thus uses an implement resembling a comb, having seven teeth made from the sharpened splinters of the leg bone of a turkey. A pattern is utilized in which the scratcher is drawn four times down the upper part of each arm, thus making 28 scratches each about 6 inches in length. This operation is repeated on each arm below the elbow and on each leg above and below the knee. Finally, the implement is drawn across the breast from the two shoulders so as to form a cross; the same pattern is repeated on the back in which the body is thus gashed in nearly 300 places. These scratches did not penetrate deep enough to result in a serious outcome. The blood is allowed to flow freely. The medicine applied appropriately in the wounds is intended to toughen the muscles of the player. The patient then plunges into the stream and washes off the blood. In rheumatism and other local diseases the scratching is restricted to the part infected.

     Rubbing was used generally for pains and swellings of the abdomen. This method was employed with the tip of the finger or the palm of the hand. In one of the formulas for treating snake bites the manipulator is told to rub in a direction contrary to that in which the snake coils itself, the tradition being that this is just the same as uncoiling it. Blowing upon the part infected, as well as upon the head, hands and other parts of the body, is an important characteristic of the ceremonial performance. In one of the formulas it is specified that the doctor must blow first upon the right hand of the patient, then upon the left foot, then upon the left hand, and finally upon the right foot, thus making an imaginary cross.

     Bathing in the running stream, or "going to water," as it is called, is one of their most frequent medicine/religious ceremonies. This practice is performed on a great variety of occasions, such as at each new moon, before eating the new food at the green corn dance.

     The medicine dance and other ceremonial dances before and after the ball play is in connection with the prayers for long life, which in effect counteracts the effects of bad dreams or the evil spells of an enemy, and as a part of the regular treatment in various diseases. The details of the ceremony are very elaborate and vary according to the purpose for which it is performed, but in all cases both shaman and client are fasting from the previous evening, the ceremony being generally performed just at daybreak. The bather usually dips completely under the water four or seven times, but in some cases it are sufficient to pour the water from the hand upon the head and breast. In the ball play the ball sticks are dipped into the water at the same time. While the bather is in the water the shaman is going through with his part of the performance on the bank and draws omens from the motion of the beads between his thumb and finger, or of the fishes in the water. The old customs have expired. However, they have gone down in history and have been recorded for the present generation as well as future generations.

7 years ago

American Indian Vision QuestBy Maurizio G. Smith 

[From a talk delivered at Theosophical Library Center, Altadena, California, on April 18, 1986.]

Opening Prayer:

If you would walk the paths of the American Indian -- be prepared. Walk softly, O My Sisters, O My Brothers.
Tread lightly, break not the stillness of the dawn, for in this stillness one can hear the whispers of the Great Spirit.
Choose your path and walk forward, turn not back. And, when the stone appears the obstacle, turn each stone one by one. Do not try to move the mountain, but turn each stone that makes the mountain.
And when the desert sands sear your moccasins, curse not in despair lest the South Wind hear and construe and bring wrath upon your head. And when the path bristles with thorns, turn not from the path, for the strife of life are the thorns. Tread softly. Speak softly. For on this path you will need the wisdom of chieftains. The admonishments of your Chiefs can become your strength.
And when the cold winds buffet you, bend with the wind. And, soon, you will walk unattended.
On the path you may meet an old one, who will stop for you as you will stop for him. Age meets youth, and youth meets age. Remember the little ones along the way. Take time to walk with others along the path, especially those who have pointed your way to higher trails -- your Mother and your Father. 
Walk softly so that you will hear the sounds. When you meet and hear the cries of the oppressed, the sick, the little ones, and those who seek you -- be not ashamed that your tear mingles with theirs.

For in this walking there is an awakening. Think twice before you walk the trail of the Red Man. Then walk softly, O My Sisters, O My Brothers. -- RED DAWN ["Walk Softly, O My Sisters, O My Brothers," reprinted with permission.]

A central practice of the North American Indian is the Vision Quest: the inward journey toward the perception of our innermost self within the "Harmony of the Four Balances" [Hyemeyohsts Storm, Seven Arrows, p. 27]. This journey often begins in childhood and the search for the vision continues throughout life.

 

7 years ago

In Voices of Earth and Sky Vinson Brown described the rite of passage, saying that among the Plains tribes and also in most of the Plateau and Eastern forest tribes, practically every young man and many a young woman was sent to seek a vision. In effect their whole childhood was programmed to fill them with a desire to seek and receive visions, spirit power, and an understanding of the sacrifice and ordeal involved. Most of them expected to see in vision one or more guardian spirits, usually in the form of an animal, a bird, or as a natural force like thunder and lightning. This guardian spirit is a reflection of the Great Spirit in each seeker, and will remain with him all his life to help and protect him, especially if he keep his heart purified.

The American Indians hold sacred the virtues of truthfulness, courage, generosity, and reverence for life. They practice direct communication with the Great Spirit, whom they call Wakan Tanka, through seven sacred ceremonies. As told by Black Elk to Joseph Epes Brown, these include:

"The Keeping of the Soul" -- a ceremony or rite of purifying the soul of the dead.

"The Rite of Purification" -- performed to enable the seeker better to do the will of Wakan Tanka.

"Crying for a Vision" or the Vision Quest.

"The Sun Dance" -- held during the full moon of June or July, a ceremony performed in order to allow the seeker to come closer to Wakan Tanka.

"The Making of Relatives" -- performed to establish relationships between Wakan Tanka, the earth, other human beings, and so on.

"Preparing a Girl for Womanhood."

"The Throwing of the Ball" -- the ball representing Wakan Tanka. The game symbolizes the course of a man's life, which should be spent trying to catch the ball [cf. The Sacred Pipe (1935)].

The Vision Quest helps the seeker to realize his oneness with all life and that all creation is his own relative. It helps him to pray to the Great Spirit for further knowledge of the One who is the source of all things yet vastly greater. According to Black Elk,

Every man can cry for a vision, or "lament"; and in the old days we all -- men and women -- "lamented" all the time. What is received through the "lamenting" is determined in part by the character of the person who does this, for it is only those people who are very qualified who receive the great visions, . . . -- Op. cit., p. 44

Possibly one reason some did not receive a vision is that their "cry" was selfish? Only those who are of exemplary character and well prepared receive the truly great visions. They are those who devote themselves to the service of the tribe and others. Essentially they have forgotten their own needs and dedicate themselves to the Great Spirit.

The great Sioux Chief, Crazy Horse, received most of his power through the lamenting ritual which he performed several times a year, including during the winter. Others who are also known to have sought visions were Black Elk, Ice of the Cheyennes, Plenty Coups of the Crow, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, Whirlwind Chaser and Elk Head of the Sioux.

The Vision Quest provides one with helpers from the four elements of fire, earth, air, and water; from the birds, and from the rest of the animal kingdom.

7 years ago

The four directions and their helper qualities are:

Directions

North

South

East

West

Animal

Buffalo

Mouse

Eagle

Bear

Color

White

Green

Yellow/ Gold

Black

Qualities

Intellect and Wisdom

Innocence and Compassion

Illumination

Introspection

Advance preparations include fasting, minor physical sacrifices, purification in the sweat lodge, and any other deemed necessary by one's guide.

Visions were sought on lonely mountaintops. The higher the place, the closer it is to the Great Spirit. It is away from crowded places so as to make the seeker self-dependent, and in an area with ever-present risks: danger of falling, contact with animals or birds, etc. -- the more rugged and mysterious the countryside the better. Women go to a hill or valley because such are considered protected places. Men go up to the mountains.

Immediately prior to reaching the selected location, the seeker sometimes (it is not a rule) is again bathed. This includes sweat baths, smudging with sage or pine needles, and other practices the guide may suggest. Then, the seeker must paint his or her body with white clay, bring a buffalo robe, pipe, and moccasins, and wear a breechcloth.

At the spot of seeking, a bed of flat rocks is built, covered with pine branches, sage, or cedar -- materials which have sacred qualities according to Indian tradition. Vision seeking continues from one to five days, four days being the ideal, during which neither food nor water is taken. The Sioux often set up a center post to which offerings are tied, and four other posts in the form of a cross with cloth flags tied to them. Between them the seeker walks ceremonially at a very slow pace so that a round would take an hour or more to complete. There are accounts of seekers remaining dry in the circle during rain storms.

In brief, the individual cleanses himself or herself in mind and body in order to be a fit vessel through which the Great Spirit might work. One's earthliness is removed by purification so that it does not in any way impede the Great Spirit.

The Beings who come to befriend a man or woman on the Vision Quest vary. It used to be buffalo, elk; now, possibly bears, eagles, dogs, rabbits, mosquitoes, and mice. Spirits are also possible as guides.

 

7 years ago

One example of a Vision Quest is the experience of Plenty Coups of the Crows [Adapted from Thomas E. Mails, The Mystic Warriors of the Plains (1972)]. He received guidance from a certain "Dwarf-Chief" who told him that he could give the boy nothing, as he possessed the power to become great if he would but use it. He was to cultivate his senses and use the powers he had already been given. He would then go far. The differences among men, he was told, grow out of the use or nonuse of what is given them by the Great Spirit when they are born.

All men have a natural power within them to cope with life's demands. Plenty Coups had a will, and he must learn to make it work for him. He should sharpen his senses as he sharpened a hunting knife: a wolf smells things better than an Indian boy because he has learned to depend on his nose to tell him every secret the winds carry. Therefore Plenty Coups would be given nothing, not even the usual medicine bundle, because he already possessed everything needed to become great.

In going over all this afterwards, the Indian boy saw and understood that whatever he accomplished would be obtained through self-development under the guidance of the Great Spirit. He had a strong will and would be successful if he used it wisely. In the words of Mails:

In a second vision Plenty Coups was made aware of the tiny chickadee who was least in strength but strongest of mind among his kind. This little speck of a bird was willing to work to gain wisdom, and he was an exceptional listener. Nothing escaped his ears which "he had sharpened by constant use." After that, Plenty Coups' helper was the chickadee. -- p. 133

Once it was received, the Indian always carried a token of his vision with him and it was painted in symbolic fashion on his shield cover, clothing, and tipi. But the most effective concentration of power came with the medicine bundle.

- - - - 

In preparing this talk I sought the counsel of Chief Black Brave Eagle of North Dakota, Medicine Chief Roaming Deer of Texas, Chief White Buffalo of North Carolina, and Chief Young Eagle of Eureka, California. All of them agree that crying for a vision in the true sense of the word is seeking the highest in man: the highest level of his physical nature; the highest level of his feeling nature; the highest level of his mind nature; and the highest level of his spiritual nature. These are the four balances, the four directions within each man and woman, the four levels of being and unfolding.

The ideal Vision Quest is one where the seeker is naked (everyone is born naked), puts himself or herself on the mountain without any external guide -- only his or her own inner guide; fasts during the four-day quest, and communes with the Great Spirit in silence. (Today's modern version, they say, finds seekers singing, drumming, and making all other sounds they want.) He or she circumambulates the vision grounds slowly and silently four times during each day: twice at sunrise, and twice at sundown. When the four days are over, the seeker leaves the now sacred vision grounds, silently goes home, continues to practice solitude for the next three days, and gradually returns to the normal routine of his or her life.

(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 1986; copyright © 1986 Theosophical University Press)

Cherokee Taboo's
7 years ago
5. Women who are pregnant should avoid eating squirrel, speckled trout, rabbit, and they should be sparing with salt. They should not loiter in doorways or wear anything tied around their neck such as a neckerchief. For three months after birth the mother should not prepare meals for her husband and should avoid sexual intercourse with him, she should also avoid touching him in general. 6. Young children should not touch moles. 7. Women in their moon time (going through the menstrual cycle) should be separated from the community by going to stay in a house built by the community for this purpose, they should remain there for the duration of their menstruation. Women in their moon time should avoid men, they should not be upstream or upwind from them and should never touch them or prepare food for them, they should never take part in any community ceremonies. At the end of their bleeding they should be purified by sweating and going to water before re-entering the community. This is not done to disrespect to women in any way, quite to the contrary. This is done because of our great respect for women and the creative powers they possess. A menstruating woman's presence anywhere in the vicinity of a ritual or ceremony could render it ineffective or could cause some other problem. A woman's menstrual cycle is evidence of her creative powers. It is a time when they should be careful because of the strong energies they exude. 8. Foods from the opposing realms of this world should not be mixed. For example foods from the upper world of sky such as birds should not be mixed with foods from the lower world of water and underground such as fish. 9. Members of the same clan may not have sexual relationships with each other. 10. The mourning period lasts for one year during which the name of the deceased should not be spoken. Submitted by Wolf Heart From Blue Panther
7 years ago
CHEROKEE FORBIDDEN WAYS Some things Cherokee believed were not to be done... 1. There are some animals that should not ordinarily be killed. It is forbidden to kill an eagle, wolf, or rattlesnake. There were and are a few people who are trained specialists that deal with killing a wolf, eagle, or rattlesnake. Specialists for taking Eagles come from the Bird Clan and specialists for killing wolves come from the Wolf Clan. It is rarely done but sometimes they are hired to do this. The reasons for it being done vary but one of the main reasons is to acquire certain parts of these animals for ritual and ceremonial use. Certain rituals, ceremonies, and dances require this. The Eagle Dance, for example, requires the use of eagle feathers. 2. There are some plants that should not be gathered. The killing of evergreens is generally avoided but sometimes these are harvested and used usually for ceremonial purposes. When this is done it is done by people who know what they are doing, by people who are aware of the proper forms of ritual associated with the taking of an evergreen. It is more common for a part of an evergreen to be properly taken and used for medical or ceremonial use than the entire plant. For example, in some ceremonies pine boughs are thrown onto the fire. In my family sometimes sprigs of cedar or pine needles are put into a pot of hot coals, this produces a smoldering effect giving of a great quantity of pungent smoke which is then used for purification. Evergreen wood is never used for common tools or firewood etc. Like the evergreens, ginseng, is a sacred plant and is respected. When seeking ginseng the first three or four plants are passed by, when the desired plant is found and uprooted with proper prayer some beads are placed in the hole. Any offering would really suffice but traditionally red beads are used for this. 3. Men who are preparing for war must avoid sexual intercourse for four days prior to leaving and four days after returning. During these periods they will undergo purification. This same rule is heeded for going on a large hunt. 4. After killing a deer the hunter should cut out the hamstrings and leave them behind. He should not leave them in the meat. He should also not leave without offering a prayer for pardon to the deer. He should use the tip of the deer's tongue as an offering of thanks by putting it in the fire. It is also common for people to throw some of the meat from every meal to the fire as an offering of thanks. 
7 years ago
Indian Dancing
 
By Julia Seton
 
This is a small part of a book titled "Why Dance" which may be read online by going to http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/native/dance/why.htm

The importance of the dance in the life of the Indian is shown in the fact that his most elaborate ceremonies are commonly known as dances.

The Indians teach a child to dance as soon as it can be held erect, training it to lift its little feet with the motion of a dancer, and instilling a sense of rhythm from the very beginning. In the CORN DANCE which we witnessed at Santo Domingo, one of the chorus carried a baby, perhaps three months old, upright against him all day, as he kept vigorous time to the rhythm of the music.

In the early stages of thought, the dance was inseparable from the song or chant.   Now, the songs are usually sung by the men who play the accompanying instruments.   If the dancers move in a circle, the instruments are placed in the center of the circle; otherwise they are in a row at one side.

The dances are many; but each has its name, its steps and movements, and its special songs; each has its history, and usually its symbolism, though much of this latter has been lost in civilization and self-consciousness.

There are dances for men and women together; and other dances in which men and women dance by themselves; still others in which individuals dance alone.

There are comic dances, and dances in costumes that disguise the persons taking part.  Many employ masks symbolic in both form and color.  In some tribes feathers are the principal decoration; in some, the men dance nearly nude.

But, however diverse the dancing regalia may be, or how marked its absence, no matter what the purpose of the dance, or the steps used, the Indian dance always presents two characteristics-dramatic action and rhythmic precision.

Dances of great activity are done exclusively by the men.  Usually the dance is performed in a small space, or even on one spot.  The changes of attitude, however, are sometimes rapid and violent.  When the Indian dances, he dances with freedom, and every movement is vivid and natural.  This is, perhaps, the most significant difference between the dances of the Red and White man.  Our dance action has become conventional to the last degree--in all except the modern ballroom dancing, where a little more convention might be desired.

An Indian has said: "The White man dances with his legs; the Indian with his individual muscles." His dance, is, certainly, rather a body vibration than a limb motion.

The Makah Indians of Washington have a great number of what we would call interpretive dances; and it was not unusual in this tribe for a woman to dance alone.   But, in most tribes, the women were not solo dancers, and did not employ the violent steps and forceful attitudes of the men's dances.

Hartley B. Alexander says: "The steps [of the women] are mincing, feet hardly lifted from the ground, the elbows close to the body and the hands barely shaken, the face impassive; yet noted closely, it will be seen that the whole flesh is quivering with the rhythm of the drum.  Such dancing can be imitated only in a sketchlike fashion; the art itself is not the white man's" (Manitou Masks, p. 15).

Alice Corbin Henderson says: the dances "are the heart and core of Pueblo life; they represent the incarnation of the Pueblo soul.  When the Pueblo Indian fights for his dances, he is fighting for his soul . . . . If we help the Pueblo artist to find his soul, we may find our own."

And again: "The spirit of these dances is so pure, so genuine; they spring so inevitably from a primal source, that a comparison with our more artificial art is almost impossible" (Dance Rituals of the Pueblo Indians).

When a certain Wild West showman was putting on Indian dancers, doing weird barbaric hopping, yelling, and brandishing of spears, he was asked by one who knew how false such a demonstration was: "Why do you do that?  You know that that is not the real Indian dancing."  He replied: "Sure, I know.  But that's what the public thinks is Indian dancing, so I must give it to them."

It is from such sensational sources that most of us obtained our first ideas of the art.  How absurdly false such presentations are, and what a real loss they inflict, I slowly realized.  It was not until the summer of 1927 that I had the full opportunity of seeing for myself what a new world of joyful art was open to those who study Indian dancing.  Before that memorable trip was over, we had seen among the Indians not only the steps of nearly all other nations, but many that were peculiar to the Redman; as well as these steps combined into numberless characteristic and beautiful dances.  We saw, in all, sixty-eight dances and had twenty more described to us by authorities.  There are literally hundreds of different dances among the Redmen.   It is safe to say of these that they embody all the advantages of our social and exhibition dances, and eliminate the grosser faults.

 

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The Seven Ceremonies
7 years ago
by Rob WoodThis article represents a brief introduction to the seven sacred ceremonies of the ancient Cherokee. For the most part, this information comes from Tribes that Slumber Indians of the Tennessee Region. It is never a good Idea to present information from a single source, especially with such a complex subject; however, time limited the ability to do more research. Undoubtedly, each ceremony deserves several pages. Hopefully, in subsequent articles more in depth research will be possible, and details from a variety of sources can be included.

Two numbers are sacred to the Cherokee. Four is one number, it represented the four primary directions. At the center of their paths lays the sacred fire. Seven is the other and most sacred number. Seven is represented in the seven directions: north, south, east, west, above, bellow, and "here in the center" (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 175), the place of the sacred fire. Seven also represented the seven ancient ceremonies that formed the yearly Cherokee religious cycle. Six of the ceremonies took place every year, the seventh was celebrated every seventh year. They were held between March and November, based on the phases of the crescent or new moon. The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony was the first.

The First New Moon of Spring Ceremony took place "When the grass began to grow and the trees send out their pale new leaves..." (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 176-77), around the first new moon of March. This festival initiated the planting season and incorporated predictions concerning crop success or failure. It lasted seven days and included dancing and the re-lighting of the sacred fire by the fire maker. The ceremony included sacrificing a deer tongue in the fire. All the home fires were extinguished and rekindled from the sacred fire’s coals.

In August came the Green Corn Ceremony. It was performed when the new corn was ripe enough to eat. New corn was not to be eaten until after the ceremony took place. Messengers were sent to notify the towns of the nation about when the celebration would take place. Along the way they gathered seven ears of corn, each from a field of a different clan. After the messengers returned, the chief and his seven councilors fasted for six days. The ceremony began on the seventh. Again, the sacred fire was extinguished and rekindled. As with the First New Moon Ceremony, a deer tongue was sacrificed in the sacred fire. Kernels from the seven ears of corn that had been gathered from the clans were also sacrificed. A powder made from tobacco was sprinkled over the fire. Afterward, the Chief offered a prayer, dedicating the corn to the Creator. Food that was made from the new corn was brought to the townhouse and everyone was fed. The Chief and his councilors could only eat corn from the previous year’s crop for another seven days.

The Ripe Corn Ceremony was held in late September. It was the only ancient ceremony that survived into the 20th century. It celebrated the maturing of the corn crop and was held outdoors in the square ground. In the center of the ground a leafy tree was set. The celebration lasted four days and was also marked by feasting. During the ceremony a special dance was performed by the Chief’s right-hand man, as he danced he carried a green bough. A man’s dance was also performed in which each man carried a green bough. While it was taking place women were excluded from the square.

The third ceremony in the cycle was the Great New Moon Ceremony. It took place in October when the new moon appeared. Since autumn was the season when Cherokee stories say the world was created, it represented the new year celebration. Each family brought some produce from their field to share, such as corn, beans and pumpkins. Ceremonies included dancing, purification by immersing seven times in water, called "going to water" (Mooney, p. 230). The purification ceremony included predictions of health for the coming year by the "priest" using the sacred crystal.

Ten days after the New Moon Ceremony "Atohuna" was held, the reconciliation or "Friends Made" ceremony. The ceremony dealt with relationships between two people of the same or opposite sex. According to Tribes that Slumber, "these relationships were bonds of "eternal friendship in which each person vowed to regard the other as himself as long as they both lived." (p.183) It was a ceremony that was a pledge of universal fraternal or paternal love. It also "entailed reconciliation between those who had quarreled during the previous year." (p. 183) It symbolized the uniting of the people with the Creator and purification of body and mind. The New Moon Ceremony was said to have been the "most profoundly religious" (p. 183) of all the ceremonies. As with other observances, it also involved the rekindling of the sacred fire.

7 years ago

The sixth ceremony in the cycle was the Bounding Bush Ceremony. Few details are now known about this ceremony. Apparently, it was non-religious in nature and was celebrated by feasting and dancing. In the dance, men an women alternated in pairs. Two male leaders carried hoops with four spokes, each with a white feather at the end. The remainder of the dance is described as follows: other pairs in the center and at the end of the dancing column also carried hoops. All of the remaining couples carried white pine boughs in their right hands. The dance movement was circular, and in the center was a man with a small box. He danced around within the circle, singing as he did so, and as he passed by the dancers, each dropped a piece of tobacco in the box...(Lewis & Kneberg, p. 185)

The dance ended at midnight and was repeated on three successive nights. On the fourth night there was a feast before the dancing. Dancing resumed at midnight. This time people dropped pine needles into the box. At the end of the dance, near daylight, the dancers formed a circle around the sacred fire: "One by one, they advanced three times toward the fire, the third time tossing both tobacco and pine needles into the flames." (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 185)

Every seventh year the Uku Dance replaced the Great New Moon ceremony. In this dance the Chief, or Uku, led the nation in a ceremony of thanks giving and rejoicing. At the conclusion of the four day observance, the Chief was "reinvested with his religious and civil powers by his right-hand man. "Uku was one of several titles conferred upon him. During ‘Friends Made’ ceremony, for example, his title meant ‘one who renews heart and body.’ " (Lewis & Kneberg, p. 185) Before the chief performed his dance, he was ritually bathed by his councilors with water warmed by the "Honored Woman." He wore special regalia for the occasion and performed a dance around a specially prepared circle in the center of the square ground. Prior to dancing, the Chief was carried from a specially prepared throne, painted white. His feet were not allowed to touch the ground until he was brought to the circle. As he danced, he moved slowly around the circle, inclining his head to each spectator. Each spectator bowed in turn to the Chief.

As was stated at the start, this is only a brief description of the ancient Cherokee ceremonial cycle. There were also a number of other dances performed for special purposes throughout the year. It is hoped that more information on these, and Cherokee cosmology in general, can be presented in the future.

Sources:Lewis, Thomas M. N. and Madeline Kneberg. Tribes that Slumber Indians of the Tennessee Region. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, tenth printing 1994; 196 pp.

Mooney, James. History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Asheville, North Carolina, 1992.



This post was modified from its original form on 22 Feb, 12:28
7 years ago
Rain Dance

Probably When most people think of American Indian dancing, rain dancing comes to their mind first. Movies have shown what the think  this ceremonial Dance looks like for ages. They show a chief in a large headdress leading the ceremony, tapping his mouth and frolicking in circles. In the background can be heard drums beating using modern drum rythms and dancers can be seen shaking rattles and yelling at the top of their voices.. In reality, the rain dance is a very serious prayer dance, and has been used for years by Native American tribes.

A rain dance is defined as a ceremonial dance used to bring on rain and ensure a good harvest . None of the articles I have read, published from a white source stated the rain dance is one of the most powerful prayers that can be lifted to the Creator..

Where many dances are only performed by males or females separated, the rain dance has always been performed by both men and women dancing along side each other, a symbol that rain is important to everyone. A rain dance may be performed by many tribal members or even many villages assembled for that purpose or it may be performed by one or two people..First and foremost the Rain Dance is a Prayer being lifted up to the Creator asking for relief from a drought..

The clothing worn when performing the rain dance is the best the tribal member has along with the best bracelts and jewelry...

The dance is unique in that it involves men and women moving in zigzag patterns, rather than dancing in a circle as is often seen in tribal dances..

Rain dances vary for different tribes. The rain dance is used as a means of all tribal members praying for much needed rainfall to dry lands. The rain dance is still performed in modern times and is a very powerful way of praying for drought relief..

 

 

7 years ago
TYPES OF NATIVE AMERICAN DANCE 8:10 AM

For centuries native peoples have gathered together and engaged in ceremonial and celebratory dance. Men's Traditional Dance, Women's Traditional Dance, Grass Dance...all are rooted in those days long ago but like much of American Indian culture, these roots are not simply history. Attend any powwow today and you can see these dances recreated by men, women and children in exhibition and competition as lush illustrations of "living history."

Men's Traditional Dance: Danced with exaggerated movement above the waist to simulate hunting, tracking or fighting but heavy, grounded, flat-footed lower body, this dance originated with members of warrior societies on the Great Plains. Costume includes an eagle feather bustle and hair roach made of porcupine quills. While many tribal gatherings today work to join and unite tribes from across the continent, homogenizing some of the dances to suit all, Men's Traditional dance remains tribe specific in terms of style and dress.

Women's Traditional Dance: This dance is extremely reserved in nature, simply a single or double step done in a circle. Sometimes an up and down movement is done while standing in place. Costume for Women's Traditional also remains tribal specific, sometimes with elaborate beadwork on long buckskin or trade cloth dresses.

Men's Grass Dance: The Grass Dance was first done in the tall prairie of North Dakota at the turn of the 20th century. The costume a shirt with a V-shaped yoke, lots of fringe on the pants and shirts and headdress that might remind you of "antennae." No bustles are worn. Dancers sway from side to side facing forward around the circle.

Men's Fancy Dance: By the middle of the 20th century, tribes gathering together began to see the costuming and innovations in traditional dances becoming more and more elaborate. Beadwork became lavish and the bustles became bigger. Eventually, a bustle at the back of the waist was joined by a second, smaller bustle at the back of the neck and the footwork became more exaggerated and out of this the Fancy Dance was born. Today the Fancy Dance is often the highlight of dance competitions. The colorful visual elements of costume and face paint coupled with quick and spinning footwork and jumps make this dance a favorite of competitors and viewers alike. This dance is intertribal.


Women's Fancy/Shawl Dance: It is tradition for a woman to exercise proper etiquette and wear shawl into the dance arena. Women's Traditional Dance participants wear one, but young women, inspired by and feeling equal to, the male fancy dancers have now created a counterpart for themselves and incorporated the shawl. During this more spirited women's dance, some wear only a single shawl over street clothes, but a fancy-shawl dancer with full regalia will have a dress, leggings, moccasins, cape and shawl - all matching in decoration. This dance is intertribal.

Women's Jingle Dress: This dance is aptly named, because the dress worn by participants does, in fact, jingle. Rows of tin cones adorn the dress in patterns selected by the dancers, which include women of all ages. The tin cones are often made by rolling the heavy metal tops of snuff cans. It is said that a hundred years ago an Ojibwa (Chippewa) holy man had a vision in which four women appeared to him wearing jingle dresses. The dance also bears a resemblance to the Grass Dance, which seemed to originate at the same time. This dance is intertribal.

 

Introducing the Child to the Universe
7 years ago
 

Alice C. Fletcher describes this as follows: 

"This ritual was a supplication to the powers of the heavens, the air, and the earth for the safety of the child from birth to old age. In it, the life of the infant is pictured as about to travel a rugged road stretching over four hills, marking the stages of infancy, youth, manhood, and old age. 

"The ceremony which finds oral expression in this ritual voices in no uncertain manner the Omaha belief in man's relation to the visible powers of the heavens and in the interdependence of all forms of life. . . . It expresses the emotions of the human soul, touched with the love of offspring, alone with the might of nature, and companioned only by the living creatures whose friendliness must be sought if life is to be secure on its journey." (27th Ann. Rep., Bur. Eth., p. 115) 

This ceremony takes place when the child is eight days old. At the appointed time, the priest (Holy Man) is sent for. When he arrives, he takes his place at the door of the tent in which the child lies, and raising his right hand to the sky, palm outward, he intones the following in a loud, ringing voice: 

Priest  (holy Man) 

"Ho! You Sun, Moon, Stars, all you that move in the heavens, 
I bid you hear me!" 

Group  

"Into your midst has come a new life. 
Consent you, we implore! 
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the first hill!" 

Priest  

"Ho! You Winds, Clouds, Rain, Mist, all you that move in the air, 
I bid you hear me!" 

Group  

"Into your midst has come a new life. 
Consent you, we implore! 
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the second hill!" 

Priest (Holy Man) 

"Ho! You Hills, Valleys, Rivers, Lakes, Trees, Grasses, all you of the earth 
I bid you hear me!" 

Group  

"Into your midst has come a new life. 
Consent you, we implore! 
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the third hill!" 

Priest  (Holy Man)

"Ho! You Birds, great and small, that fly in the air, 
Ho! You Animals, great and small, that dwell in the forest, 
Ho! You Insects that creep among the grasses and burrow in the ground, 
I bid you hear me!" 

Group  

"Into your midst has come a new life. 
Consent you, we implore! 
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the fourth hill!" 

Priest (Holy Man) 

"Ho! All you of the heavens, all you of the air, all you of the earth: 
I bid you all to hear me!" 

Group  

"Into your midst has come a new life. 
Consent you, consent you all, we implore! 
Make its path smooth--then shall it travel beyond the four hills!" 

When moccasins were made for a little baby, a small hole was cut in the sole of one, so that "if a messenger from the spirit world should come and say to the child, 'I have come for you,' the child could answer, I cannot go on a journey; my moccasins are worn out.' The new (whole) moccasins put on the child at the close of the ceremony of introducing it into the tribe (when it is about four years old), constitute an assurance that it is prepared for the journey of life, and that the journey will be a long one."  

Native American Winter Solstice Celebration
9 years ago
Printed from www.care2.com
By Annie B. Bond, Executive Producer of the Care2 Healthy Living Channels.

Simple Solution
No matter what our spiritual beliefs, or what part of the world we live, we all share the turning of the sun on the solstices. Winter Solstice on December 21 is the shortest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. After the Winter Solstice, each day becomes longer until the longest day of the year arrives around June 21st.

Honoring the solstice is something lost to most of us, and it feels deeply meaningful, in a mystical sort of way, to choose to make a glimmer of connection. Here is a winter solstice rite observed by many Native American tribes. It is a ritual that honors your ancestors, belief system, and a way of offering prayer and gratitude:

Prayer sticks are made by everyone in a family for four days before the solstice. On the day named as the solstice, the prayer sticks are planted-at least one by each person-in small holes dug by the head of the household. Each prayer stick is named for an ancestor or deity.

Traditional prayer sticks are usually:

Made out of cedar and are forked;
Are equivalent to the measurement from the maker's elbow to the tips of their fingers;
and
Are taken from a tree that the maker feels connected to.
Tobacco is offered to the largest tree of the same species in the area and permission is asked to take a part of its relative.
The bark can be stripped.
The bark can be carved on the stick.
One feather should be added to the prayer stick; traditionally this is a wild turkey feather.
A bit of tobacco is placed in a red cloth and tied onto one of the forks.
Fur or bone from an animal that the maker wishes to honor is tied onto the stick.
Metal or stones should not be tied to the stick.
It is also customary to say prayers silently as one makes the prayer stick.


9 years ago
Women's Jingle Dance

There are many legends surrounding the origin of the Jingle Dress Dance. In the most popular account, a spiritual person dreamed of four women wearing jingle dresses standing before him. In the dream they taught the making of the dress, the sorts of songs that were appropriate and the way the dance was performed. Upon waking, the spiritual person asked family members to assist in making the dresses and carrying out the other aspects of the dream.

The dance was a gift from the Creator to the Ojibway people for the purpose of healing. The dance was also present in the Lakota or Dakota tribes and has spread among other tribes.

fter nearly dying out, the dance regained popularity and is now a common category at most dance competitions.

The dress features tiers of seven rows of jingle cones. The cones may have originally been metal lids of Copenhagen snuff and are now made of various other metal materials. Some instances of use of other noise making materials occur, such as bird bones or deer hooves. Dresses are decorated with ribbon, appliqué, paint, and beadwork with matching beaded leggings, moccasins, purse and hair ornaments.

Eagle or other feathers and plumes are worn and a fan is carried and raised during the honor beats of the song. Old Style Jingle dancers do not wear plumes and don't carry a fan; they raise their hands on the honor beats in order to receive healing. 

Steps are slower whereas the Contemporary Jingle dance is more. Judges will be looking for intricate, controlled footwork that mirrors the original style of the dance. Personal presentation of the dance is important, with other elements, such as the appropriate use of the fan, poise, demeanor and endurance are also factors.


9 years ago
Pow Wow Dance Styles

Women's Traditional

Women's Traditional is the oldest type of women's dance. It is sometimes referred to as Straight or Buckskin Dancing, and like Men's Traditional there are many variations in the regalia.

There are two important items used by Traditional Dancers. One, is the fan. This fan is usually beaded and is raised to the drum, in honor, during the "honor" beats of the songs. The second item, is the shawl. This colorful, fringed shawl is carried over one
arm. The fringe of the shawl sways with the movement of the dancer.

Traditional Dancers wear beautiful jewelry. Many wear breastplates that hang to their knees. The hair barrettes are hand beaded and the women often have beaded pieces for the fur pieces that hang from their hair. The moccasins are either fully beaded (Northern style) or accent beaded (Southern style).

Traditional dancers move with grace and elegance. They sway to the beat of the drum and slightly bend their knees. Although the movement is slight, the effect created by the movement of their fringe is breathtaking.

9 years ago

The Stomp Dance has a decidely Western flair and is a no holds barred event, and although performed by Indians, does not resemble the reserved, quiet, and highly focused religious ceremonies performed by the Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni with their many intricate and distinct dances. The Western Cherokee Stomp Dance is a unique evolution of the Cherokee culture in Oklahoma, and is enormously fun, engaging, and spirited event that encourages community bonding and interaction. Many Cherokee's have commented that the Western Cherokee Stomp Dance is immensely more fun and socially uplifting than the more traditional dances performed during Green Corn, which may explain its immense popularity among the Western Cherokee.

During the Stomp Dance, at various rounds in the dance, one of the ancient Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni dances called the running dance does emerge. In this variation, the dancers do not form a spiral into the fire, but form a snaking, sinuous line of people that haphazardly circles the fire. This is a variation of a more traditional social dance performed during the Green Corn Ceremony and is the only element of the Stomp Dance that resembles the ancient running dance, which was the final social dance performed during a traditional Green Corn ceremony.




9 years ago
Stomp Dance

The Cherokee Stomp Dance performed by the Western Cherokee People in Oklahoma is unique within the Cherokee Culture. The Stomp Dance had it's origins with the Creek Indians and was incorporated into the Cherokee culture after their arrival in Oklahoma following their forced removal and arduous trek on the Trail of Tears. The Stomp Dance was not one of the original dances performed by the Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni or a traditional element of the Cherokee Moons Ceremonies. In modern times, the Stomp Dance has come to replace the Green Corn Ceremony (old woman corn mother/Ah-ga-we-la se-lu ut-si) as the principal gathering of the Cherokee people during the first moon of harvest for the Western Cherokees in Oklahoma. These gatherings normally occur during the last part of August and first week of September.

After arriving in Oklahoma, numerous other Native Americans were being relocated into the Indian Territory. This forced integration of cultures allowed a mixing of customs between various Native American Tribes, and not surprisingly, the Cherokee people began to incorporate the customs of other tribes. As a result, the Western Cherokees lost or abandoned much of their original culture and ceremonies, but preserved their language, and many of their traditional stories. Other Cherokee groups in Missouri, Texas, and various areas of the South attempted to preserve and practice their ancient ceremonies at night or in secret due to activities of the Klu Klux Klan and other racist groups. This was particularly true in areas of Missouri, where many a tale of dread is still told of Cherokees being forced to flee their homes in the night due to midnight raids by the Klu Klux Klan and other groups who feared Indians and attempted to drive their settlements out of various areas of Missouri.

The Stomp Dance is performed by the Western Cherokees at the Stokes Stomp Dance Ground which is located in an isolated area of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Lands. The Dance Grounds contain an elevated platform upon which a very large bonfire is kindled after sunset. Women wear traditional Cherokee Tear Dresses, Men Wear Western Blue Jeans and Cowboy Hats with a single Eagle Feather in the hat band. The dance leader is a male Cherokee Elder who calls the people to the dance for each round in the Cherokee language. The women wear turtle shell shakers on both legs, typically 3 on each side of their legs, or six per leg which are punched with holes and filled with rocks or shot.

In the Dance, the women keep the beat for the dancers, and the men repeat the songs sung by the leader. The dancers circle the fire in counter-clockwise direction with slow, stomping steps set to the rhythm created by the women as the stomp with their shell skakers. The order of the dancers is male-female-male-female in a continuous spiral or circle. As the dance begins several hundred people may join the circle as the dance progresses. The dance continues until four rounds of four songs are completed by the Dance Leader, and the dance concludes until the next round. There is normally a 5 minute break between rounds. The dance continues throughout the entire night until dawn of the next day. The Stomp Dance is a grueling and physically challenging event and almost every Cherokee on the grounds will dance until they drop out from exhaustion. Following and during the dance at dawn an enormous feast of fried pork is consumed throughout the night, along with potatoes, bean bread, and numerous Cherokee traditional dishes. At dawn, a special medicine made from 7 secret roots gathered by the 7 clans is given to all the Cherokees who completed the dance. This medicine is very invigorating and imbibing execessive amounts typically results in emetic and purgative affects.


9 years ago
Cherokee Moons Ceremonies

The Cherokee Moons Ceremonies were the ancient seasonal round of ceremonies practiced during ancient times by the Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya or Cherokee People in the ancient culture. Although a modern calendar year is comprised of 12 months, there are actually 13 cycles or phases of the moon each year. The seasonal round of ceremonies was based on 13 moons, and was considered a necessary spiritual element for growth and fostered social interaction among the Cherokee Clans and Cherokee Society in the ancient culture.

The Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya believed the number 13 was significant. Not only did this number correspond to the lunar cycles of the year, but by a startling coincidence, all species of turtles living in the ancient homeland (in fact, all species turtles in the world) always had 13 scales on the back of their shells. As a result, Cherokee culture associated the spaces on the back of the turtle with the 13 yearly phases of the moon. These phases have shifted over time and do not fall within the 12 month year calendar year precisely every year, therefore Ripe Corn Ceremonies (now called the Green Corn Dances or the Green Corn Ceremony in Modern Times - Ah-ga-we-la Se-lu-ut-si/old woman corn mother) now fall in early September as of 2005.





Non sacred ceremonies,festivals and traditions
9 years ago
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Green Corn Ceremony

The Green Corn Ceremony was the high religious and social ceremony of a number of American Indian peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, and was practiced in ancient and modern times. This sacred ceremony occurred during the fist new moon following the corn harvests. The ceremony was marked with dancing, feasting, and religious dances.

Among the Cherokee people, the ceremony honored Se-lu, the Corn Mother. The actual name of the ceremony in the Cherokee language was Ah-ga-we-la Se-lu-ut-si which means "old woman corn mother".

The Green Corn Ceremony in ancient times lasted for four days in large townships, and for two days in smaller communities. The ceremony was comprised of sacred dances which were performed by the dancers within the sacred circle. The ceremony would begin with all the members of the town going to a running body of water right before sundown. The men and women would separately wash and anoint the seven places. When the last sight of the sun had set, and twilight was descending, the ceremony would begin. The sacred dancers were selected from young men and women from each clan, and wore sacred garments made from white buckskin.

Within the sacred circle, a deep pit would be dug and a branch of thunderwood (wood from a tree struck by lightening) would be lit and used to bless the grounds for the ceremony. The coals from this thunderwood would be used to kindle the sacred fire in the pit in the center of the circle. Each person present in the township would extinguish their home fires and approach the sacred fire and state their clan and their name to the fire.

The dancers would then perform several rounds of sacred dances which typically lasted from 2-4 hours. At the end of the first night of the ceremony and dances, all the people would take coals from the sacred fire in the circle and would enter the circle and visit socially together. The new home fires for the year would then be kindled from the spirit of the sacred fire blessed by the thunder beings.

In many townships, all the residents would bring out their furniture and shared living items and burn them in the center of the community as a symbol of renewal of the new corn harvest. They would then remake new furniture and shared items for their clan dwellings.