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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Arena > Men's Dance Styles > Straight Dancing Why jingle bell leg rattles? Why jingle bell leg rattles?

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Old 02-24-2014, 11:05 PM   #1
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Question Why jingle bell leg rattles?

I've never bothered to ask so why not now?
Why do most straight dancers use jingle bells instead of something else like deer toes?

My thoughts are that deer toes would potentially tear up some ribbonwork if the dancer was wearing ribbonwork on broadcloth leggings because the deer toes move around and snag onto stuff. With jingle bells, the moving parts are inside the bells. So, there's nothing swishing around against the ribbonwork. It seems like, way back in my misty memories, I remember hearing the elders talk about dancers wearing a bandana under their deer toe rattlers to protect their ribbonwork from the deer toes but don't hold me to it. I know I experimented with a bandana at one time but wasn't happy with it.

However, if a dancer were wearing hide leggings, the deer toes won't tear up the leggings. They could still tear up the garters but garters are much more robust and more easily replaced than ribbonwork leggings.

I will admit I wear deer toes. I have hide leggings and it works well. Deer toes were available to me and jingle bells were not. That's about the extent of my decision. I have gotten a lot of compliments on my deer toe rattlers. They are quite substantial and sometimes I wonder what the heck was I thinking back when I made them. No one has ever told me that wearing deer toe rattlers are inappropriate. I've been wearing these rattlers for about 20 years. I want to say that I have at least seen a couple other straight dancers over the years who also had deer toe rattlers but it is rare and I've wondered over the years if there's a reason that I don't know about. If someone has something to say on this, I would love to hear.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:37 PM   #2
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I was just looking through the Fur Turban thread and saw some contemporary photos of a straight dancer wearing deer toe rattles and ribbonworked broadcloth leggings. His rattles are comparably as substantial as mine and I would assume he's not concerned about any damage to his ribbonwork from the deer toes. Very interesting.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:03 AM   #3
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Bells or Deer toes

Check out this thread.

My guess is price like the guy from Alaska said, and less work. There was one dude said bells help him keep time better.
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Last edited by gilisi; 02-25-2014 at 09:04 AM..
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
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If there is anything else to it, I would bet that Historian fellow will know.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:49 PM   #5
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Thank you for pointing out that thread.

The elder I learned to dance from, who was Kiowa, painted the insides of his deer toes with yellow paint. The effect was quite striking when they moved whilst dancing. I can't say I've seen anything like that around here in the east. I tried it and made a mess of some of my toes. I want to say that he may have worn those leg rattles with his northern dance regalia. The years sure go by.

Part of my reason for discussing all this is just to help me remember. Elders used to say "If you don't use it, you lose it."
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:04 AM   #6
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I think deer toes predate bells. My bnl said he wore bells competing so the judges couldn't tell if he overstepped ! LOL If you are the only guy with toes it would be hard to hide ! LOL
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berry Picker View Post
Thank you for pointing out that thread.

The elder I learned to dance from, who was Kiowa, painted the insides of his deer toes with yellow paint. The effect was quite striking when they moved whilst dancing. I can't say I've seen anything like that around here in the east. I tried it and made a mess of some of my toes. I want to say that he may have worn those leg rattles with his northern dance regalia. The years sure go by.

Part of my reason for discussing all this is just to help me remember. Elders used to say "If you don't use it, you lose it."


Amen to that brother.

I've never seen deer toes used myself. I would love to see them used (not on fricken youtube)
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:12 AM   #8
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Yeah, I don't have regular access to elders outside of powwows anymore like I did when I lived in Arkansas. Besides, I'm getting to the age where I'm becoming one of those elders....

Long story short.
I think bugs are eating my deer toes or at least eating little bits out of the deer toes! I put my leg rattles in the freezer to stop them. Nothing else in my box of regalia appears to be being eaten. I looked over my feathers and roach carefully... Even though my box is lined with cedar, it didn't seem to deter them. I can't stand moth balls but perhaps I need to look into it. I'm kinda surprised but shocked would be a better word. I thought I cleaned my deer toes good but perhaps I didn't. Any one have any tips for cleaning any and all bits of meat out of the toes? My toes are about 20 years old and this is the first time I've ever had any sort of bug attack on my regalia. Is soaking toes in acetone recommended- like how some people clean porky hair for roach making?

I'd swear I saw a thread on caring for regalia somewhere here on powwows.com. If I'm not just imagining things, could someone post a link to it here in this thread, please? I thought I was doing a good job.

Tip: always inspect your regalia before going to a powwow or at least at the beginning of powwow season.
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berry Picker View Post
Yeah, I don't have regular access to elders outside of powwows anymore like I did when I lived in Arkansas. Besides, I'm getting to the age where I'm becoming one of those elders....

Long story short.
I think bugs are eating my deer toes or at least eating little bits out of the deer toes! I put my leg rattles in the freezer to stop them. Nothing else in my box of regalia appears to be being eaten. I looked over my feathers and roach carefully... Even though my box is lined with cedar, it didn't seem to deter them. I can't stand moth balls but perhaps I need to look into it. I'm kinda surprised but shocked would be a better word. I thought I cleaned my deer toes good but perhaps I didn't. Any one have any tips for cleaning any and all bits of meat out of the toes? My toes are about 20 years old and this is the first time I've ever had any sort of bug attack on my regalia. Is soaking toes in acetone recommended- like how some people clean porky hair for roach making?

I'd swear I saw a thread on caring for regalia somewhere here on powwows.com. If I'm not just imagining things, could someone post a link to it here in this thread, please? I thought I was doing a good job.

Tip: always inspect your regalia before going to a powwow or at least at the beginning of powwow season.
Stick a couple in a fire ant hill. If they eat the meat and leave the toe, you're in business.

Also, depending where you live in NC, many hunting clubs have gut holes (where they throw the innards). They throw in 8 toes every time they kill a deer. You could ask them to set the legs aside for you.
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Old 03-04-2014, 11:28 PM   #10
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Well, thankfully, I don't have fire ants but that is a good tip. I remember elders talking about leaving bony bits and skulls and what not on ant hills to have the meat cleaned out. Thanks for the memory.

I have little doubt that deer toes pre-date metal jingle bells. It just seems that I only see jingle bells around here and I've often wondered why. I usually am the only dancer with deer toes and it kinda makes me feel self-conscious sometimes.

Ok I'll share the story. I got my toes from a trader who picked up a box full of mule deer toes from a slaughterhouse in Montana. He was tired of carrying the box around. So, I helped him out and got about a hundred for cheap. It was just one of those rare opportunities. I used most of them for my leg rattles- somewhere of about 70-75 altogether. I am unable to post a pic. Sorry.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:46 PM   #11
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deer toes

in my own tribes way( Delawares from Copan, Oklahoma) we wear deer toes because they have form and function. we were always told that in war dancing or as some say southern straight, that our sha'we'ka'shays ( deer toes) are from earlier days of warfare. our tribes war captains wore deer toes as a signaling device and it is well documented that they could move men in advance or retreat by the mere sound of the deer toes. our Delaware men have worn them since the days off the French indian wars. most of this is already known by us by oral traditional stories, alot of it is already documented by colonial soldiers during the revolutionary war time period. I cannot say it was just delawares by any means, I have seen Shawnees, miamis, perorias, ottawas, ojibwe, ertc. there are still museum examples off these deer toes. today is an identifier to me sometimes as to who is who. with all off the pan indian stuff going on in the pow-wow world anymore I always appreciate those that are knowledgable and smart enough to include or stick with items from their own tribe. we delawares have our own shirts style we wear, we have our moccasin style that we wear, deer toes as opposed to sleigh bells, brass or stainless steel. most of our tribe do not wear white hankerchiefs on their heads, you got the older style sterling ear bobs still yet hundreds off years later.

deer toes do not damage your ribbonwork any mmore or less than bells. I use both at different times off the dance. if your ribbonwork is true, hand stitched cut n fold, then theres not much you can do to keep it from getting a " used " look from it. this is why some folks are always getting new ribbonwork, or passing it down to someone younger. solid brass sleigh bells are probably the most unique sound you can find. you will out sound anyone else in the circle during contest. they are loud<<

this is all I can share. wanishi.
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