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Old 12-28-2006, 01:30 PM   #1
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Recent history

I am doing some research on the modern grass dance.

One thing I am trying to confirm is - at most Northern plains doings in the late 1960's the powwows and wacipis were very small and did not have the variety of dancers and visitors that today's powwows enjoy.

During this period the grass dance faced a major decline.

I have heard it said by powwow people, that two dancers from Ft. Berthold kept the grass dance alive and are partly responsible for it's popularity today. They are Wade Baker and the late Dean Fox.

Is this true?
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:43 PM   #2
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Dean Peter....

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Originally Posted by WhoMe
I am doing some research on the modern grass dance.

One thing I am trying to confirm is - at most Northern plains doings in the late 1960's the powwows and wacipis were very small and did not have the variety of dancers and visitors that today's powwows enjoy.

During this period the grass dance faced a major decline.

I have heard it said by powwow people, that two dancers from Ft. Berthold kept the grass dance alive and are partly responsible for it's popularity today. They are Wade Baker and the late Dean Fox.

Is this true?
Certainly contributed and i'm sure Wade as well.....
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:23 AM   #3
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While you are researching

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe View Post
I am doing some research on the modern grass dance.

One thing I am trying to confirm is - at most Northern plains doings in the late 1960's the powwows and wacipis were very small and did not have the variety of dancers and visitors that today's powwows enjoy.

During this period the grass dance faced a major decline.

I have heard it said by powwow people, that two dancers from Ft. Berthold kept the grass dance alive and are partly responsible for it's popularity today. They are Wade Baker and the late Dean Fox.

Is this true?
Have you asked any of the Elders about the Old History of the Grass Dance? I am wondering if, when a tribe moved with the hunting, if the females participated in stomping down the grass. Is the modern grass dance a men's only dance or are there female traditional dancers? (i.e. is it allowed?)
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Old 01-23-2007, 05:53 PM   #4
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Have you asked any of the Elders about the Old History of the Grass Dance? I am wondering if, when a tribe moved with the hunting, if the females participated in stomping down the grass. Is the modern grass dance a men's only dance or are there female traditional dancers? (i.e. is it allowed?)
Ohhhhh yes!

I already have some great interviews and plan on videoing a good one in February.

I have the story from the Umon'hon' (Omaha), how it was transferred to the Santee Dakota, then to the Hidatsa.



If I don't video this information ... I don't know who else will?


So far, I have not heard that women were a part of the grass dance ceremony or "that anybody actually stomped (laid) down the grass" as told in powwows.
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Old 01-23-2007, 07:18 PM   #5
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Keep in touch!

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Ohhhhh yes!

I already have some great interviews and plan on videoing a good one in February.

I have the story from the Umon'hon' (Omaha), how it was transferred to the Santee Dakota, then to the Hidatsa.



If I don't video this information ... I don't know who else will?


So far, I have not heard that women were a part of the grass dance ceremony or "that anybody actually stomped (laid) down the grass" as told in powwows.
I hope that you keep in touch! I would like to get the book and/or video when you finish. There was a book I read recently which included a dvd in the back pocket.
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:34 PM   #6
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Ohhhhh yes!

I already have some great interviews and plan on videoing a good one in February.

I have the story from the Umon'hon' (Omaha), how it was transferred to the Santee Dakota, then to the Hidatsa.



If I don't video this information ... I don't know who else will?


So far, I have not heard that women were a part of the grass dance ceremony or "that anybody actually stomped (laid) down the grass" as told in powwows.


ok tell me just one thing.....
ive heard three versions of where the grass dance came from...

theres the popular powwow story of trampling the grass for setting up camp or for a gathering...

theres the one story here on pw.c about the guy with the lame foot who wanted to dance real bad so he came up with grass dance...

and then theres the one that says the grass dance started on the rez(in the early days) because the army guys wouldnt let the people hunt or teach the youngins how to stalk game. so they came up with the grass dance to teach youngins to move like the prarie grass and do it without the army guys catching on.

so which is it? one of them or something else altogether?


and btw.... i have seen one female grass dancer. at the time it was the oddest thing i had ever seen at a powwow. it was at the 1998 return to pittimitoui powwow in illinois.
she wasnt bashfull about it at all, she dressed right out in the open and was wearing a white sports bra under the regalia. it was either a woman or a guy with A cups
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Old 01-24-2007, 03:19 AM   #7
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Wondering further

What I am wondering is do the Nations which have the Grass Dance feel that female grass dancers are ok.
And...If it isn't even a traditional dance then why would there be an uproar about a female dancer?
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Old 01-24-2007, 08:00 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=FluteMaker;85920 and btw.... i have seen one female grass dancer. at the time it was the oddest thing i had ever seen at a powwow. it was at the 1998 return to pittimitoui powwow in illinois.
she wasnt bashfull about it at all, she dressed right out in the open and was wearing a white sports bra under the regalia. it was either a woman or a guy with A cups[/QUOTE]

It was a girl..but she only danced for about 4 years...havnt seen the family in a long time
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Old 01-24-2007, 10:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by FluteMaker View Post
ok tell me just one thing.....
ive heard three versions of where the grass dance came from...

theres the popular powwow story of trampling the grass for setting up camp or for a gathering...

theres the one story here on pw.c about the guy with the lame foot who wanted to dance real bad so he came up with grass dance...

and then theres the one that says the grass dance started on the rez(in the early days) because the army guys wouldnt let the people hunt or teach the youngins how to stalk game. so they came up with the grass dance to teach youngins to move like the prarie grass and do it without the army guys catching on.

so which is it? one of them or something else altogether?


and btw.... i have seen one female grass dancer. at the time it was the oddest thing i had ever seen at a powwow. it was at the 1998 return to pittimitoui powwow in illinois.
she wasnt bashfull about it at all, she dressed right out in the open and was wearing a white sports bra under the regalia. it was either a woman or a guy with A cups

Flute,

According to my research it is something altogether different than what you have mentioned.

Like yourself, I have heard the stomping down the grass story. I have not found anybody to substantiate it.

Phillip Whiteman Jr. (N. Cheyenne) tells the story of the boy who was unable to use his legs and began the grass dance.

I've never heard of the Army/Grass dance correlation. To it kinda sounds like "another urban myth" especially the part about "teaching the youngins to move like the prairie grass." I can only imagine a bunch of youngin's trying to blend in the side of a hill by movin' like prairie grass." *L

The "modern grass dance as we know it today" had it's origins among the Omaha (Umon'hon') people. Other tribes also have origin stories.

In the earliest of photos, grass dancers look nothing like they do today. They were bare chested, bare legged and wore tufts of prairie grass in their moccasins and belts. Today's Crow dancers who did the "hot dance" look very similar to the original grass dancers of the 1800's. Some Chippewa/Cree also wear this style of dance outfit.

I won't elaborate anything about the ceremonial aspects of this because of how I obtained this information. When I was 20, I wanted to know more about this dance and asked a well known man who is involved in the ceremonial aspect of this dance.

At that time in my life, it was not my time to obtain this information.
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Old 01-24-2007, 01:12 PM   #10
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i have seen one female grass dancer. it was at the 1998 return to pittimitoui powwow in illinois.
she wasnt bashfull about it at all, she dressed right out in the open and was wearing a white sports bra under the regalia. it was either a woman or a guy with A cups

FluteM and NDNKIDZ,

Oh I saw that grass dancer too .... only it was a guy with DD cups!







*L


j/k
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Old 01-24-2007, 02:54 PM   #11
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Uncle Dean raised me more than anyone. His trophy collection was always growing and was totally cool to wish for as I was growing up in Mandaree, he had'em from all over the US & Canada. I traveled w/ him quite a bit when I could and remember thinking why they the only 2 out there, Uncle Dean & Wade, but don't recall them talking about the evolution of Grass. It wasn't until he passed on that others started telling me about him and how they 'kept it alive.'

So yeah they're lotsa powwow folk that recognize & acknowledge Uncle Dean & Wade as keeping it alive. I remember meeting my uncle Jonathan Windyboy for the first time and how we all hung out talking bout grassdancing & powwow life & it is agreed Uncle Dean showed him the ropes & on downt he line w/ Wesley, Sidrick, and lotsa Rocky Boy & Mandaree folk as well as others from powwow country.

Ok gotta run...
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:02 PM   #12
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Uncle Dean raised me more than anyone. His trophy collection was always growing and was totally cool to wish for as I was growing up in Mandaree, he had'em from all over the US & Canada. I traveled w/ him quite a bit when I could and remember thinking why they the only 2 out there, Uncle Dean & Wade, but don't recall them talking about the evolution of Grass. It wasn't until he passed on that others started telling me about him and how they 'kept it alive.'

So yeah they're lotsa powwow folk that recognize & acknowledge Uncle Dean & Wade as keeping it alive. I remember meeting my uncle Jonathan Windyboy for the first time and how we all hung out talking bout grassdancing & powwow life & it is agreed Uncle Dean showed him the ropes & on downt he line w/ Wesley, Sidrick, and lotsa Rocky Boy & Mandaree folk as well as others from powwow country.

Ok gotta run...

Anybody else have another version of others who were involved in bringing back or preserving the grass dance in the 1960's 70's?
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:22 AM   #13
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For the states this holds true, but for Canada there are lotsa folk, especially in Hobbema, Poundmaker, uhh Sweetgrasswater (?), CTK, even Whitebear, but plenty of Northern reserves have always grassed but kept to themselves until (in my perspective) RedBull & Blackstone broke the mold & everyone started travelling. Ron McNabb comes to mind too as far as keepin' it real. The Goodwills have a stong lineage too, Byron & Darryl are still tearin' it up.
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:40 AM   #14
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For the states this holds true, but for Canada there are lotsa folk, especially in Hobbema, Poundmaker, uhh Sweetgrasswater (?), CTK, even Whitebear, but plenty of Northern reserves have always grassed but kept to themselves until (in my perspective) RedBull & Blackstone broke the mold & everyone started travelling. Ron McNabb comes to mind too as far as keepin' it real. The Goodwills have a stong lineage too, Byron & Darryl are still tearin' it up.
On the flip side, there are lots of places around James Bay that have just gotten the grass dance within the past five years. I also noticed that in the beginning, nearly all of the people that danced grass were from other reserves and had married into that area and brought the dance with them. Locals were real slow coming around to it, but as more grass dancers started visiting (once they got their powwows up and running) more kids (and it was always kids) came around to grass dancing. Those first generation dancers must be in their early 20s now.

What was most iinteresting to me how all the guys over 30 went straight to traditional dancing, the guys in their 20s went to singing, and the guys under 20 went to grass. It just went that way.

It mimics the patterns that went on when grass dancing became a style in our community back in the 60s too. Before that there was just a sort of "freestyle" or non-bustle dance that looked a lot like old style grass and another bustle style that looked similar to the freestyle, but had it's own vibe as well. This was all in NW Ontario. I don't know that it was the same all over, but that part of the Treaty area does seem to generally move together like that. I think Louis Councilor was one of the first to grass - he was a hoop dancer first though, I think. I'll have to ask him. A lot of guys who had relatives down south seemed to get to it first.
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Old 02-08-2007, 11:19 AM   #15
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On the flip side, there are lots of places around James Bay that have just gotten the grass dance within the past five years. I also noticed that in the beginning, nearly all of the people that danced grass were from other reserves and had married into that area and brought the dance with them. Locals were real slow coming around to it, but as more grass dancers started visiting (once they got their powwows up and running) more kids (and it was always kids) came around to grass dancing. Those first generation dancers must be in their early 20s now.

What was most iinteresting to me how all the guys over 30 went straight to traditional dancing, the guys in their 20s went to singing, and the guys under 20 went to grass. It just went that way.

It mimics the patterns that went on when grass dancing became a style in our community back in the 60s too. Before that there was just a sort of "freestyle" or non-bustle dance that looked a lot like old style grass and another bustle style that looked similar to the freestyle, but had it's own vibe as well. This was all in NW Ontario. I don't know that it was the same all over, but that part of the Treaty area does seem to generally move together like that. I think Louis Councilor was one of the first to grass - he was a hoop dancer first though, I think. I'll have to ask him. A lot of guys who had relatives down south seemed to get to it first.
sookout,

Thank you for sharing. Your information is important to the theme of this thread about the recent history of the Grass Dance.

I have also heard stories from the plains Cree and Anishinbe who live near the great lakes of having the grass dance early in their history.

Can anyone from these tribes confirm this?
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Old 02-09-2007, 04:29 PM   #16
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sookout,

Thank you for sharing. Your information is important to the theme of this thread about the recent history of the Grass Dance.

I have also heard stories from the plains Cree and Anishinbe who live near the great lakes of having the grass dance early in their history.

Can anyone from these tribes confirm this?
I'm not 100% for sure, but I would put money down that our old traditional form could be derived from an original style - and that the original style could have been very much like the grass dance elsewhere; where the grass dance is often credited as being the original dance that the traditional style comes from.

So maybe our traditional style is/was grass, like on the plains. I'm not sure, but it would fit.

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