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Old 10-16-2006, 09:48 AM   #1
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Lost Item within dance circle

It's been a long time since I've seen an early Ponca method of taking care of a lost item on the dance floor or grounds. A veteran who had seen action (a warrior) picked up the item and returned it to the owner. The veteran then recounted a personal battle or war story (a coup). And that was pretty much it, except the recipient could pay the vet for the mistake.

With the revival of the hethushka, it seems there were not enough veterans and war stories to keep up with this tradition. The rule was relaxed, so that the whip men could take care of the lost items.

I know up North, they have that dropped-feather ceremony where four vets dance and circle the item and dance towards it with arm extended. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that ceremony is over 40 years old.

I've been to powwows where this Northern method was done repeatedly, because of lost feathers. It was time consuming and took time and spirit away from the dance. I've been to powwows where the announcer and arena director agreed that one time with the dropped-feather ceremony was enough to cover all lost items.

I've seen other ways. Just wondered if anyone wanted to comment.
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Old 10-16-2006, 01:34 PM   #2
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Good topic! I have seen a few different things but it seems to be in line from what you are talking about. As for the pow wow side of things that is where I have seen the most variation. Last Red Earth they had some doings if I remember right and put tobacco out on the floor when they picked the feather up. Most small pow wows seem to have AD's that know a vet if they are not one, so the AD either takes care of it or brings a vet over. Pick it up, shake hands, the vet has words with the person who dropped the feather and it is done. No interruption and a few folks don't even know there was a problem.



As for the hethushka I understand that the whip men takes that burden on as part of their sacrifice. It goes back to protecting the people. Better discussed elsewhere I think. That is just what I was told and I am no expert.

The way I look at it is simple and from what I was taught. If you make a mistake, take care of it and move on. Don't call attention to yourself by making it a big deal. Be respectful and do what is right.
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:17 PM   #3
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I have seen the dropped feather dance done, a few times. And I have also been in OK and other southern dances where a vet and elder come out prayed over the dropped feather, picked it up and talked to the person.

Was also at a wardance, and a feather was dropped. The whipman picked it up, and the owner paid for the mistake. Then I heard the whipman say "Your lucky that so and so did not see that cause you would have lost that feather." Depends where your at I guess, cause different areas do things in different manners. And we need to respect them.
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:24 PM   #4
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the problem up here in the tri-state, pa, md area is that no one knows what to do.

i have seen 4 vets try the dropped feather ceremony when MAYBE 1 of them knows what they are doing. all the vets couldnt line up fast enough to take part yet none of them knew what to do.

other times people just pick it up themselves or a vet or the AD will.

as for heluska's....is there a limit to the item the whipman picks up? i have seen a whipman pick up a 2 inch piece of fringe and try top match it to a pair of leggings. is that just TOO much power?
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:49 PM   #5
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Billyjoejimbob: Is this your fringe? Are you sure? It sure looks like it to me! Haha! I don't know where the line is drawn. I would say common sense says but... Kinda ties back to what Travelingmocs said about it depending on who takes care of it. The whip men I have seen in Oklahoma do a great job of keeping things clean and not making a big deal of things. I think it is a little different though because sometimes I get the feeling that the dancers out there work really hard to keep things from going to the floor in the first place. Just a different mentality than some of the other places I have been.
Shoot, now that I think about it I can't remember where I was that the same guy lost something three times in the same session. Kinda crazy and a few years back.
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:10 PM   #6
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actually no it wasnt me. im put together pretty good.
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Albert
...The whip men I have seen in Oklahoma do a great job of keeping things clean and not making a big deal of things. I think it is a little different though because sometimes I get the feeling that the dancers out there work really hard to keep things from going to the floor in the first place. Just a different mentality than some of the other places I have been....
Just thought I'd interject a thought here. In the way I was taught, in the Ponca/Omaha Hethuska tradition, one of the Whipman's duties is to keep the dance arena clean, including items dropped from a dancer's clothes.

However, the reason the dancer is expected to provide a gift to the Whipman to make things right and recover his lost item, goes back to the Whipman's duties during a war party, back in the buffalo days. If a warrior (dancer), dropped part of his clothes when away from camp during a war party he endangered the entire group, as it would leave something for enemies to follow. The Whipman's duty was to make sure this never happened, and if it did, the warrior may have been dealt with harshly.

As far as the dropped item within a formal Hethuska Dance Ceremony goes today, the owner of the dropped item gives a gift to the Whipman out of respect, as a way of saying, "I'm sorry I made this mistake in not keeping my dances clothes together, and I acknowledge that my actions can have an affect on the whole group. Therefore, please accept this gift as a token of my desire to make things right and restore balance." Then the item is returned.

When the dropped item is a feather, especially an eagle feather, the traditions get more complicated as some have already said, since there are spiritual traditions involved.
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Last edited by Historian; 10-16-2006 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:44 AM   #8
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I have been taught and still live by the ways of dropped items. Just a piece of the out fit(nonfeather) is cleaning up the dance area and should just thank the Whipman/AD with a hand shake and or a gift for the respect of their position.

Feathers are something different. I have seen greet ceremonies conducted and I've seen the Feather picked up and given back to the dropper without any adoo. I for one think that a Vet. and preferably a war Vet. should be in on the pick up of the Feather. I have seen times when the dropper with the ADs agreement request someone special to pick up this Feather. In any way or mannor irregardless who picks up the Feather, a thank you gift should be given and recognised. In the old days great gifts were given away.

Best thing to do is just don't drop anything.
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:46 AM   #9
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Here is a similar but maybe a new Question. What if the dropper of a feather is the only war Vet in the dance area?
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEROSAGE
Here is a similar but maybe a new Question. What if the dropper of a feather is the only war Vet in the dance area?

IMO, and this is my opinion, any vet would be able to retrieve it. Let's face it, you join the military, you know that you may be called to put your life on the line. You MUST respect that selflessness.
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Old 10-19-2006, 01:27 PM   #11
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Old 10-19-2006, 09:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEROSAGE
Here is a similar but maybe a new Question. What if the dropper of a feather is the only war Vet in the dance area?
It is my understanding that in most instances, the Whipman or the Arena Director has the last word as to what traditions, protocols, or actions should or should not take place within the dance circle. (The assumption being that the individuals chosen to serve in one of these positions, has the experience and knowledge to make important decisions as needed.)
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