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Old 03-09-2009, 11:30 AM   #1
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Dance Trailer

According to Dr. James Howard, the dance trailer is,

“...a vestigial relic of the long narrow breechcloths formerly worn by the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and other High Plains tribes. The Osage, who traded with these people, probably adopted the style from them, adding it to their own short breechcloth. In time they abandoned the cumbersome front piece, but retained the back part, which adds a graceful dimension to the gliding motions of the straight dancer and also prevents his otterhide from twisting itself around his leg at odd moments.”
(Howard, 1976, p. 36)

The dance trailer, sometimes called the breechcloth tail, is made from the same color of rainbow selvage broadcloth used for the breechcloth, and is usually decorated in a matching pattern. It is worn by slipping a belt through a tube, made by folding over and sewing the top few inches of the dance trailer, and fastened around the waist at the back, it hangs down to within about four inches of the ground.

The Osage from Grayhorse and Hominy Districts, the Ponca and the Comanche usually wear their dance trailer under the back panel of the breechcloth or apron, while the Osage from Pawhuska District usually wear their dance trailers over the back breechcloth panel.

It has been suggested that the Pawhuska District Osage wear their dance trailer differently as they received their Inlonshka traditions from the Kaw tribe. (Tim Tallchief, Osage, 1987)

The width of the dance trailer is usually a bit narrower than the width of the breechcloth or apron, and they both are usually decorated in such a way, so that the breechcloth and the dance trailer appear to be part of a “set.”

If cut ribbon appliqué decoration is used on the vertical edges of the breechcloth, then the dance trailer will usually have two or three equally spaced strips of horizontal ribbonwork, in addition to the ribbonwork binding to the vertical edges.

If stylized floral beaded aprons are worn, the dance trailer decoration usually follows the same style of artwork.

In old photos taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the dance trailer can be seen on Ponca and Osage straight dancers with additional decorative elements using metal fringe, brass sequins or bone buttons to add to the overall effect.

Osage at Pawhuska, OK - no date


Pawnee - no date


Bailey, Garrick, and Daniel Swan.
2004. Art of the Osage. St. Louis Art Museum, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

Barth, Georg J.
1993. Native American Beadwork. R. Schneider Publishers, Stevens Point, WI.

Callahan, Alice A.
1990. The Osage Ceremonial Dance, I’n-Lon-Schka. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.

Cooley, Jim.
1985. Inlonska Centenial Commemoration: One Hundred Years of Dancing at the Pawhuska District. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, June Issue, Vol. 10, No. 10, LaPalma, CA.

Dude, H.D.
1974. That Old Gray Horse Ain’t What She Used To Be. Indian America Magazine, Vol. 8, Number 7, Tulsa, OK.

Duncan, Jim.
1997. Hethushka Zani: An Ethnohistory of the War Dance Complex. MA thesis. Department of Anthropology, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK.

Feder, Norman.
1957-a. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1.
1957-b. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 2.
1980. Some Notes on the Osage War Dance. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, November Issue, LaPalma, CA.

Hail, Barbara N.
1980. Hau, Kola!: The Plains Indian Collection of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Brown University, Bristol, RI.

Howard, Dr. James H.
1965. The Ponca Tribe. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 195, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
1976. Ceremonial Dress of the Delaware Man. Special Issue, The Bulletin of the Archeological Society of New Jersey, No. 33, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.

Kelly, Helen.
1987. Scarlet Ribbons: American Indian Technique. American Quilters Society, Paducah, KY.

LaFave, Edward J.
1998. Straight Dance Clothing: How to Dress a Straight Dancer. Whispering Wind: American Indian Past & Present Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 4, Folsom, LA.

Lookout, Herman.
1984. I-lon-shka Centennial Booklet, 1884-1984. Program of Events, Pawhuska District Osage Ceremonial Committee, Pawhuska, OK.

Orchard, William C.
1929. Bead and Beadwork of the American Indians. Contributions from the Museum of the American Indian, Vol. 11, Heye Foundation, New York, NY.

Smith, Jerry.
1967. Straight Dance Clout, Leggings and Trailer. The Singing Wire Newsletter, October Issue.
1978-a. Osage Style Ribbonwork Part 1. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, May Issue, Buena Park, CA.
1978-b. Osage Style Ribbonwork Part 2. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, June Issue, Buena Park, CA.
1978-c. Osage Style Ribbonwork Part 3. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, September Issue, Buena Park, CA.
1981. Ribbonwork: An Advanced Pattern. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, March Issue, LaPalma, CA.
1982. Straight Dance Clothes: Getting Them On. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, April Issue, LaPalma, CA.
1983. Ribbonwork: One Pattern, Two Constructions. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, November Issue, LaPalma, CA.

Stewart, Tyronne H.
1968. Dressing a Straight Dancer. The Singing Wire Newsletter, February Issue.
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:01 PM   #2
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i was taught that the long trailer was a part of their everday breech cloth and they worn the aprons with decoration over them to dance in, how true is this

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Old 03-12-2009, 03:30 AM   #3
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I have been told that the trailer is worn over the apron/breechcloth when we dance because we originally wore teh breechcloth. The trailer was worn over the breechcloth because it was easier than to try and git it under the breechcloth.

Just something I was told, true or not.
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Old 03-28-2009, 01:54 PM   #4
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Osage ribbonwork set with Dance Trailer in center


Osage Dance Trailer and Otter Dragger


Full Osage ribbonwork set including Dance Trailer
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:21 PM   #5
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:01 PM   #6
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two questions first as stated the long trailers were long breech clothes then shorted in the front i was taught that the decorative aprons were worn over the everyday breech cloths at dances so when was the long trailer started to be decorate to match.and what relationship is the trailer on bustles either fancy dance or traditional to straight dance outfits trailers
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodond View Post
...what relationship is the trailer on bustles either fancy dance or traditional to straight dance outfits trailers
I'm not aware of any relationship between feather bustle trailers (originally split into two pieces so as to straddle the back of a horse), and the Southern Traditional Straight Dance trailer.
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodond View Post
two questions first as stated the long trailers were long breech clothes then shorted in the front i was taught that the decorative aprons were worn over the everyday breech cloths at dances so when was the long trailer started to be decorate to match.and what relationship is the trailer on bustles either fancy dance or traditional to straight dance outfits trailers

ro,

The origin of the modern powwow has it's roots in the Omaha and Ponca Helushka. Both tribes had designated warriors who wore the "crow bustle" during the helushka ceremony at one time.

Many articles worn by modern fancy and traditional dancers have direct corrolation to articles worn in the helushka of the 1800's. However, through time and evolution, many of these articles have been modified to fit the times.

The fancy dance bustle, traditional dance bustle and it's trailers are perfect examples of this. Today, many fancy dancers omit the trailer.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:26 PM   #9
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so when was the trailer decorated to match the aprons
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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so when was the trailer decorated to match the aprons
Photographic evidence suggests early 1900s, and perhaps late 1800s.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:30 PM   #11
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would this be when the trailer became separate from the breechcloth maybe
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:09 PM   #12
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