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Old 11-10-2002, 05:21 AM   #1
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Exclamation CA hethuska

hey is anyone goin to the hethuska in CA ?
who knows the time date,etc??
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Old 11-10-2002, 12:37 PM   #2
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I believe it is not until March, 2003, unless someone else know different
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Old 11-10-2002, 01:57 PM   #3
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The CA dance is held the first weekend of march, and is held in Lonch Beach I believe. If I can find it I will send you the, headmans e-mail address so you can get all the information from him......
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Old 11-12-2002, 11:37 AM   #4
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CA hethuska

Can one of you above describe just what is Hethuska is? I've never heard of hethuska. What do you do at this dance and how does things go?

Please, I would really like to know how you go about this in Ca. I would also like to know who this headman(Iguess thats what you call him) is and what are his duties of functions? Thank you.



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Old 11-12-2002, 11:48 AM   #5
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The Hethuska is the dance that belongs to the Poncas. It is very similar to the Osage Ilonshka, and Pawnee Erushka(sp). The Poncas gave the dance to a group in California in the late 60 sixtys I believe. I let others who belong to that organization or other headmen talk about thier roles.
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Old 11-13-2002, 01:29 AM   #6
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CA hethuska

I was just wondering. I've heard several different stories-ways and versions. Like I said before I was trying to get the true and correct version.

Maybe one of these days someone that knows will come on and explain this to me. thanks,


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Old 11-15-2002, 02:55 AM   #7
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This in a very short version, very condensed.

These dances are mostly all Straight dancers. We do have visitors that may not Straight dance. These are our warriors. This is our traditional way of Ceremonials. Each of the mentioned Tribes have our own version, though very similar.

As I said, VERY short and dry. You have never seen quite the site of several hundred Straight Dancers at one dance. Sorry for this condensed version.
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:44 PM   #8
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The California Hethushka was held at a school in Long Beach, CA, until 2006, when it was found that the usual dance floor was ruined and couldn't be used. The hethushka was moved to the South High School cafeteria in Torrance, CA. In 2007, South High will again be the meeting place, March 3 and 4. The hethushka is on the 3rd, and a small half day powwow is held on the 4th.
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pawtoeman
Can one of you above describe just what is Hethuska is?...
Some information as to what the Hethuska is, can be found on the thread titled "The Ponca Hethuska Society" in this Straight Dancing forum.

The following are two excerpts:

...We know that the Hethuska Society was once a men’s warrior society among the Omaha approximately 300 years ago when the Ponca and the Omaha were part of the same larger Dhegihan linguistic group. In fact Duncan (1997) states, “In 1884, Alice Fletcher believed the Hethuska song which referred to the famous Ponca warrior named Ishe’buzhe was at least one hundred fifty years old, dating the song to circa 1734.” (Duncan, 1997, p. 45) This would put the age of that particular song at 271 years old from the date this work was publish, and the society structure was already in place. In addition, evidence suggests that the Hethuska’s earliest roots may have gone back to the ancestors of the Omaha/Ponca in the Middle Mississippian Culture over 500 years ago.

Later, when the Omaha and Ponca split to form separate tribes sometime in the early 1700s, both tribes continued their versions of the Hethuska Society, which have evolved separately but remain very similar. Because these men of the Hethuska had proven to have above average hunting skills and above average warfare skills, they pledged to look after those in need among the tribe. Especially taking great care of the widows and orphans of warriors killed in battle, who might otherwise starve without their help.

During the time of intertribal warfare in the 1800s, the dance ceremonies held by the Hethuska Society would help to preserve the valorous war exploits and deeds of heroism of it’s members, both past and present, in the actions of the dance and the words of the songs. In this way, it was thought, younger men and boys would be inspired to follow the examples of bravery in defense of the tribe, which the men of the Hethuska portrayed....


...In the early 1950s, Sylvester Warrior (Ponca) set out to see if the dormant Ponca Hethuska Society could be revived, especially in honor of the recent Ponca Veterans of Word War II and the Korean War. In addition to being a World War II Veteran himself, Sylvester Warrior had a deeper personal interest in the Hethuska Society as his grandfather, Standing Buffalo, was a prominent sub-Chief the Ponca in late 1800s and the Nu-doN’-hoN-ga or Headman of the Ponca Hethuska Society when the society “passed the drum” to the Grayhorse village of Osage in 1883, and his mother, Grace Warrior was “keeper” of the tribal pipe. (Conklin, 1986) After many years of gathering information from Ponca elders and singers, Sylvester Warrior, through a long and very involved process, gained the blessings and permission to revive the Ponca Hethuska Society in 1958 at White Eagle, Oklahoma, becoming it’s Headman. (Conklin, 1985)

By 1972, Melvin Kerchee (Comanche) had effectively reorganized the dormant Comanche version of the Hethuska Society which the Poncas had given the Comanche in 1919. The revived Comanche War Dance Organization as it was called, was then attended by and sanctioned by Sylvester Warrior and the Ponca Hethuska. (Kerchee, 1985)

With the death of Sylvester Warrior at the age of 60 in August 1973, the next person elected to be Headman of the Ponca Hethuska was Jonas Steele (Ponca/Winnebago). However, Steele’s time in that position was very short as he passed away unexpectedly in February 1976.

In the Fall of 1976, Abe Conklin (Ponca/Osage) was elected to be the new Headman of the Ponca Hethuska. When Abe Conklin passed away in December 1995 at the age of 69, Damon Roughface (Ponca), son of the late Paul Roughface, was elected to become the new Headman or NudoN’hoNga of the Ponca Hethuska Society and to date, holds that position.

Today, the Ponca Hethuska gathers to have their dance ceremony twice a year, usually in April and October, on or near the Ponca Reservation at White Eagle, in north central Oklahoma. The Hethuska dance ceremony now consists of one afternoon dance session, an evening feast for all dancers, singers and spectators, followed by an evening dance session. Each dance session lasts for about four hours, with periodic water breaks...


Quote:
Originally Posted by pawtoeman
...What do you do at this dance and how does things go?...
During a traditional four day Hethuska dance ceremony, two dance sessions per day were held, usually one in the afternoon and one in the evening. On the first day of the four day dance ceremony a prayer said by the Headman or an appointed elder would begin the ceremony followed by the Starting Song. During this song the dancers remain seated, though quiet and alert. Next, four to six Calling Songs or songs calling the warriors to gather and Prayer songs talking about the relationship between God and the Hethuska warriors, were sung in slow and deliberate form and were danced to in an almost melancholy fashion. The slow songs are sung first, their tempo ranging from slow to medium and with each dance session, the tempo increases.

The drum then continued with War Songs, the largest group of songs sung in the dance ceremony. War Songs fall into two categories, word songs and vocable songs.

Word songs describe the brave acts of particular individuals mentioned by name; the hard times a Headman had in leading his warriors; or the victories of the Ponca in particular battles with various enemies.

Vocable songs, or also referred to as Dream songs, are said to have been “given” to particular Ponca warriors in dreams or visions to help them become victorious in battle. When a Dream song “worked,” many times the warrior would give the song to the Hethuska Society to be sung at the dance ceremony when a dance pantomime was done to act out how the events of the warrior’s success in battle had taken place. From that time on, the song was sung as part of the normal sequence of the ceremony to give inspiration and power to the group.

The War Songs were sung during the first day and most of the second day of dancing. As the War Songs are sung, they would get progressively faster in tempo with each song. The dancers respond by dancing with greater enthusiasm and more intricate body movements. Usually there were 12 to 16 songs in a set of songs. Each set of songs was followed by a water break, and during each dance session, there was usually four sets of songs.

There are many names attributed to the next group of songs sung after the War Songs, usually sung by the evening of the second day. They have been referred to as Charging Songs, Ruffle Songs, Roll-the-Drum Songs and Thunder Songs. These songs, which I will refer to as Charging Songs, have two distinct parts to them with the dancers responding accordingly. The beginning of each song would have loud vigorous drum beats with occasional loud single raps of the drum. This is referred to as the “rolling of the thunder” on the drum. Traditionally it was believed that “Thunder Beings,” or powerful spirits which cause and control thunderstorms, especially the sound of the thunder associated with the storms, are being imitated during the rolling drum beats. It was also believed that their spiritual power could be pulled down through the drum and sent into the spirits of the dancers to give them strength and courage.

During this beginning segment of rolling the drum in the Charging Songs, the dancers danced in place facing the drum, while shaking their bells and making body movements imitating the preparation to charge an enemy. After a signal from the drum, the drumbeat changed to a fast dance tempo and the dancers began slowly dancing toward the drum. The advancement stopped when the drum again rolled the thunder beats and the dancers responded by dancing in place were they stopped, still facing the drum in the center of the dance circle. This process was repeated four times throughout the song. On the fourth time, the dancers advanced to the drum and spun off dancing clockwise around the drum for the rest of the song. This dancing action in two parts was repeated for each Charging Song sung. It has been said that this group of Charging Songs would re-enact the courage of Ponca warriors who would charge the enemy and become victorious.

Today, these Charging Songs have become popular at Pow-Wows throughout the Southern Plains as contest songs where young men ruffle the feathers of their fancy dance outfits and show off their dancing skill for the judges. In the Northern Plains, especially among the Lakota, these types of songs are considered Veteran Songs and the dancing has been referred to as the “Sneak-Up Dance.”

On the third day of the Hethuska dance ceremony the group of songs collectively referred to as the Committee Songs were sung. These are a group of songs which honored the leaders and individuals who held appointed positions of responsibility within the Hethuska Society. Today these Honoring Songs include songs to honor the Headman, the men of the Committee, the Whipman, the Cook and the Lady Singers. According to the late Ponca Crier Issac Williams, at one time there were songs in honor of the Tail Dancers and the Water Carriers, but these have been lost and are no longer in use.

In addition to the Committee Songs, other honoring songs in modern times will sometimes be included upon request, such as a song in honor of the individual(s) who provided the food for an evening feast; a song in honor of children and songs in honor of particular individuals by name. With the completion of each honoring song, there is usually time allowed for the honoree to give away gifts in recognition and in thanks for the honor given them by the song being sung on their behalf, before the next song begins.

Following the Committee Songs and other honoring songs are a group of songs called Trot Songs traditionally sung on the third night. Among the Ponca, the Trot Songs are said to have been composed in honor of Ponca warriors wounded or killed in battle and refers to the bravery of the warrior and his companions.

The songs which immediately follow the Trot Songs are referred to as the Tip-Toe or the NoN-sta-pi-waN Songs. These songs are slower in tempo, but with a similar rhythm as the Trot Songs. The Tip-Toe Songs are all vocable songs in contrast to the Trot Songs which are all word songs. NoN-sta-pi-waN, the Ponca word for “tip-toe” or “to walk softly,” refers to the action of Ponca warriors approaching an enemy or enemy encampment, being as silent and stealthy as possible to avoid detection.

After the Tip-Toe Songs, before the Hethuska dance ceremony ends, there is usually a solemn time in which Memorial Songs are sung. These songs are usually sung at the request of a family member of the deceased, in honor of an individual who has passed away recently or many years ago. The only people to dance on these songs are the family members or family descendants of the individual for whom the song is being sung. Today, the Ponca now sing a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Song composed by Sylvester Warrior, Lamont Brown and Harry Buffalohead toward the end of the dance ceremony. As in other Memorial Songs, the Ponca Vietnam Veterans Memorial Song was composed to honor those men killed in the Vietnam War and is not danced to.
While the dancers are quiet and thoughtful, the Headman will usually say a closing prayer and ask that the Quitting Song be sung to end the dance ceremony. During the Quitting Song the dancers do not dance, but instead rise, and after the second verse, follow the Whipman as he leads the dancers single file out of the dance circle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pawtoeman
...I would also like to know who this headman (I guess thats what you call him) is and what are his duties of functions?...
The Ponca Hethuska Headman is called Nu-doN’-hoN-ga meaning “War Leader” (nu-doN or “war”, hoN-ga or “leader”).

In the past, the NudoN’hoNga or War Leader, as the name implies, earned the respect of other warriors as a successful leader of the ritually organized, pre-emptive or retaliatory war raids against the Ponca’s enemies. He would be noted for having few fatalities while on these war raids and respected as a powerful spiritual leader and advisor. He must have carried the WaiN’ Waxube, or Sacred War Pack (aka Hawk Bundle) into battle and he must have been eligible to wear the Ka’he or Crow Belt, and had served as a WanoN’she or Whipman, during a ritual buffalo hunt. Alice Fletcher noted in 1892, “The Leader held his office for life, or until he resigned. When the office became vacant the aspirant to the position made a feast, to which all the members of the society were invited, and his desire being made known, if there was no objection, he by general consent became Leader. Such a man, however, must be one whose successful leadership of war parties had made him noted among the people. His seat was at the back of the (earth) lodge, opposite the door.” (Fletcher, 1892, p. 137) Should the NudoN’hoNga prove to be a poor leader, the Hethuska membership would quickly choose another to take his place.

Today the Ponca Hethuska Headman, for the duration of his life or until he resigns, is in charge of all that happens at the Hethuska dance ceremonies as well as any other Hethuska society function or activity throughout the year. He is the unquestioned authority on all Hethuska society matters and has the responsibility to make all final decisions. Though many important decisions are made after consulting with his Committeemen and elder Advisors to gain a consensus of their opinions on any particular matter, the Headman has the right, and is expected to make the final decision. The Headman is expected to uphold the best ideals and set examples of good moral conduct, respect for all veterans and caring for the needy of his membership and his community. The Headman still sits on the west side of the dance circle, and one of the “special songs” during the dance ceremony, honors the Headman.
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Old 01-15-2007, 12:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsi-tse Wa-tsi
The Hethuska is the dance that belongs to the Poncas. It is very similar to the Osage Ilonshka, and Pawnee Erushka(sp). The Poncas gave the dance to a group in California in the late 60 sixtys I believe. I let others who belong to that organization or other headmen talk about thier roles.
Initially, "passing of the drum” was considered a gift from the Ponca Hethuska Society to another tribe. This gift, in effect, was the permission to have the rites and privileges to perform the Ponca Hethuska dance ceremony.

"Passing a drum" means that the Ponca Hethuska would make a drum and give it to a man who would be the leader of the Hethuska society within the tribe that received it. This new Headman would also be given a set of Honor Songs (now known as Committee Songs) and instructions on how to choose leadership positions, as well being taught the core traditions of the dance. Lastly, the new Headman would have been admonished to “make his own way” and create a unique society based on the core of Ponca traditions and songs.

The Ponca Hethuska Society, under the leadership of then Headman Sylvester Warrior, and with counsel from elder advisors, "passed the drum" in 1968 to a non-tribal group based in California.

During the tenure of Headman Abe Conklin (1976-1995), the Ponca Hethuska Society "passed the drum" to three other non-tribal groups, giving them the permission to function as a Hethuska Society and having the rites to perform the Ponca Hethuska Dance Ceremony. These three organizations consist of one based in Texas, one based in New York, and one based in Illinois.
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:56 PM   #11
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Can anyone dance at these societies?
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:52 AM   #12
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Can anyone dance at these societies?
It is my understanding that it is up to the Headman of each organization, to choose who will, or who will not, be permitted to participate at any given time.
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Old 01-24-2007, 10:32 PM   #13
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I don't know about the Hethuskas but the Ilonshka dances have a visitors seating section. It is up to the Whipmen to weat you, so just ask permission for your seat. They will seat you where they think is appropriate.
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:43 PM   #14
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Visitors

It depends on where you go as far as being able to dance. My experience is that organizations that you would not be able to dance at don't advertise so you would not know it is even going on.

I was taught that there are proper manners for these things so it is impolite to show up dressed out ready to dance if you are not a member of the host organization or the formally invited/ recognized organizations... you are imposing on their hospitality. As a visitor you always have to keep in mind that the host has the right to refuse you. Most places I have been have visitor benches but they are the last to get seated so if the arena is full, you might not have a place. I was always told these formals were held long ago to take care of their own people so hospitality and manners says that you treat guests as well as you can but your people come first.

If you have never been to one before, I would suggest that you sit out and watch all the doings so you can start to understand better everything that is going on. Just make sure if you sit out one session sit out all the sessions. Don't do things half way.

Question for the Osage folks, I was told that for a visitor to dance up there, proper manners is to wait for an invite from the committee. A family can bring you up there to the feed/ watch/ help at camp etc. but to put on clothes required an invite from the boss. Back to what Historian was talking about. I have also heard that a family can bring you in with them. What is the best way to conduct yourself in your experience?
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:44 PM   #15
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Just another thought on the earlier topic... I heard of a man who got turned away by the whipman for whatever reason. The story I was told ended with the man who was turned away being upset by this. It was his mistake to have just showed up expecting to participate, and it is unfortunate he left upset. But it also shows the mentality he had was all wrong to start with.

I was reminded that when someone shows up 'uninvited', good manners for the host says that that person should be fed and so on even if they are in the wrong. The host might not like it but often times they will do it anyways. Just because they do this for you does not mean you are doing it right. They might not let you know that you are doing wrong but they will remember you. This is why you are often asked who you are with. Good manners go further in Oklahoma than fancy clothes and a good dance step.
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