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Old 03-29-2004, 03:17 PM   #1
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Gourd Dance Origins

So far, many Kiowas have given their reasoning for why they believe they began the gourd dance.

The Cheyenne-Arapaho, Comanche and Ponca also have claimed at one time or another that the gourd dance and/or songs are a part of their history. Any Comment?

Also there are many gourd dance organizations across the United States. Among them:

Golden State Gourd Dance Society (West Coast)
War Shield Gourd Dance Society (Southwest)
Gulf Coast Tia-Piah Society (Gulf Coast)
Lone Star Gourd Dance Society (Southern Plains)
Great Lakes Tia-Pia Society (Great Lakes)
White Star Gourd Dance Society (Midwest)

Tribal Gourd Societies/Clubs/Organizations are now officially organized among the: Osage, Cherokee, Navaho and Quapaw.

Anybody have any ideas on how these societies/gourd clans got started or sanctioned?
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:59 AM   #2
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I know that the Quapaw Intertribal Gourd Dance Society sent a delegation to Carnegie, OK to meet with Kiowa Society leaders. This took place in the mid 80's. Grandad, Jack Greenback, was our Elder. (He has since passed). Our society was given permission to organize as a society. (This is a VERY simplified version). Many of our original members have passed.
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Old 03-30-2004, 02:11 AM   #3
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I recently saw something that might be of interest to this discussion. I was photo's of old ledger drawings attributed to the Arikara and it showed clear what looked to be gourd dancing. These drawing wear dated as 1800s. I know the Kiowa claim the gourd dance going back to the early 1700s and that their original tribal lands put them in the Black hills area around that same time. So if these drawing are correctly cataloged...who was practicing and it originally and why are the Arikara no longer doing this dance?

Whome ... you ever heard anything on these folks doing this dance in the past?
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My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.
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Old 03-30-2004, 10:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powwowbum49
I recently saw something that might be of interest to this discussion. I was photo's of old ledger drawings attributed to the Arikara and it showed clear what looked to be gourd dancing. These drawing wear dated as 1800s. I know the Kiowa claim the gourd dance going back to the early 1700s and that their original tribal lands put them in the Black hills area around that same time. So if these drawing are correctly cataloged...who was practicing and it originally and why are the Arikara no longer doing this dance?

Whome ... you ever heard anything on these folks doing this dance in the past?
___

No there is no connection.

The Skidi band of Pawnee (Northern Pawnee), at one time, shared the same linguistics, songs, territory, earth lodges and even some ceremonies that are now no longer practiced, incommon with the Arikara.

Both tribes used the rattle in ceremony, as did many other tribes in North America.

One dance that the Skidi no longer do, uses rattles and the dancers line up in what resembles the modern "brush dance."

To my knowledge, the Arikara have never claimed the Gourd Dance as we know it today.

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Old 03-30-2004, 11:48 AM   #5
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Ed Red Eagle among others, was the real person behind the Osage Gourd dance society. His connections and friends among the Kiowa in NAC and his long life and association with dances in Oklahoma. He brought me into the Osage gourd dance almost 20 years ago. I first dance with my friends among the Comanche in 1972, but did not join a group. But I do not know the specific history of who and where and exactly when the Ossage organization began. I will ask my elders in the organization.
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:01 PM   #6
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...gullible Navajos

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
...Tribal Gourd Societies/Clubs/Organizations are now officially organized among the: Osage, Cherokee, Navaho and Quapaw.

Anybody have any ideas on how these societies/gourd clans got started or sanctioned?

Well.....Whome.

Supposedly, and you probably remember these people from when you were out here.

Art Cometsevah (Southern Cheyenne) purportedly gave permission to, I believe it's three Navajo individuals to go ahead and form a Gourd "Society" if you will.

Larry Anderson, prominent community member and Council Delegate in the Navajo Nation Tribal Council.

The late Theodore "Ted" Evans of Chinle, AZ....and multiple first place winner of the Golden Age Southern Straight Contest @ GON.

....and, I'm a bit iffy on this one, but, I'm fairly sure his names been thrown around quite a bit with this grouping.

Leonard Anthony of Shiprock, NM or thereabouts.

Larry organized the Black Creek Gourd Society, named for the creek that runs thru Larry's home community of Fort Defiance, AZ. It's membership has swelled to, I believe over 300 members. Gourd Dancing is VERY popular among the Navajo. They have their annual dance, once a year, Labor Day Weekend, usually in Fort Defiance, AZ.

Like I said, I don't know if the permissions to share this dance are admissible from an individual LIKE Art Cometsevah....but, then again, I don't really know the man.

As far as organization goes. They're very 'Navajo' in their approach to the whole thing...kind of like........."well, we'll let someone ELSE run it, we'll just show up and dance"

Like I said, it could be a REALLY good dance, and they could possibly start up a contest powwow once a year if they really organized and rallied behind one another. But, Navajo's are too independent in action and thought......selfish one might say......so, nothing gets done.

But, there's potential there if you ask me. It could be something of an event. Plus, I for one think people would relish the idea of a monthly gourd dance. For sure to raise funds for their Labor Day Weekend dance......possibly enough to haul in a REALLY GREAT GROUP of singers for their annual. ....plus it would help to offset the cost of food for the feed on both days.( Their dance is for two days.)

They did have some Kiowas come out one year, a large group of Southern Cheyenne's as well.....and a few Comanches. The year the Kiowa's came out, they pledged a beef to the Black Creek Gourd Society.....people have often wondered WHERE that beef went......course, that's all conjecture and useless gossip and fingerpointing now. ...anyway. Point is, early on, it had some respect. I don't know where it's at now.

Gourd Dancing is NOT something that is part of the Navajo tradition......and I'll emphasize that till the day I die. But, I think it novel and very generous of an individual or tribal group, that they would share something like this.......provided it was their right to do so.

I've often mentioned to some Black Creek Gourd members that they should go to a dance in Oklahoma.....and just watch, see the organization at work. Watch how the members support one another, not just at their annuals, but, at smaller dances when say, an individual is asked to be head gourd. You'll notice the outpouring of support, financially and physically. It's something to see.....and a good teacher if you ask me.
.
Plus, I think they need to maintain some ties to their parent group.........if one exists. If anything, it'll make for a stronger society as a whole.

......course, this is just my opinion on the whole situation out here in the West. Iím sure people take offense to some or a lot of the things the Navajo people do in general when it comes to things like powwow or Gourd Dancing. But, again, you have to go back to where they learned it from........Okies, either passing thru or married out here. So, while I think itís good that you DO correct us, and you really do need to.......itís your wayís not ours. I also think you need to slap some restraints on your own people so they donít come out here, .....taking advantage of gullible Navajos!! LMAO!!!
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storm
Ed Red Eagle among others, was the real person behind the Osage Gourd dance society. His connections and friends among the Kiowa in NAC and his long life and association with dances in Oklahoma. He brought me into the Osage gourd dance almost 20 years ago.
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Storm:

As usual, you have some good information. I will contact Harry and Johnny Red Eagle to find out more information. I have seen Johnny at the Kiowa Gourd Clan Ceremonials. From my observations, the Osage do the gourd dance in a very respectable way.

______

EdgeWaterK:

You also have some excellent information. I see where you have done your homework and have good resources. Do you have any idea when Wilsie Bitsy and Allen Neskai came into the picture? Both were instrumental in spreading the Gourd Dance to the Navaho Nation.
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Old 03-30-2004, 12:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
___

EdgeWaterK:

You also have some excellent information. I see where you have done your homework and have good resources. Do you have any idea when Wilsie Bitsy and Allen Neskai came into the picture? Both were instrumental in spreading the Gourd Dance to the Navaho Nation.
This is where it get's cloudy. Supposedly, they have their own deal going, or something to that effect.

I hear mention of an additional "society" started up by them or something to that effect, or they just supported it. The White Eagle Gourd Society. But, both men are now gone.....so, I would have to say that whatever was there, if anything.......probably died with them. Dennis Coan may have known something about it, but, he too went on to the hereafter.

I realize it's serious business with the Tribes in OK, who have this dance, and I can see how it is offensive to them to see it not being treated or cared for properly.

......Navajo's, for some strange reason, feel compelled to add aspects of the Native American Church into their Gourd Dances, or to add alot of ritualized action or made up stuff to Gourd Dancing. Which, I for one, don't agree with. Religous practices like those done in NAC belong outside IN their respective places, under the right conditions. They have no place in the arena if you ask me.....especially where you're doing things that are a bit controversial. I've seen jars of peyote being passed at the drum among certain singers, or among gourd dancers.......I for one don't think it belongs there, so, typically, I will get up and leave. I don't want to be associated or placed in a position where I'll be singled out or implicated if something should go wrong, and nor do I wish to be affiliated or in anyway connected with actions or people like that.

I feel these things have their place....and should be kept there, separate, ....never the twain shall meet!!

......of course, I'm still learning about Gourd Dancing, but, I question some activities my fellow tribal members perform. Like placing fans on drums when singers are singing during the Gourd Dance so as to fan someone off. Or this full on signal fire goin in an abalone shell.....some of these people start smudging like it's goin outta style!! Either that, or they'll haul out these HUGE 20ft long staffs to dance with, or they'll be dancing with deer antlers or some kind of stick with various articles attached to it.

Some out here have sought to incorporate some things from the Sun Dance, mostly because they sun dance. Granted, I'm somewhat familiar with the Sun Dance aspect or relationship the Gourd Dance had at one time.....in some tribes. But, I just don't see any point to incorporating those things in, especially when neither of those two things belong to the Tribal Group in question......Navajo.

What dances we do or did have, we're all ceremonial in nature....even our most social of dances has a ceremonial connection, with "rules" to follow. ....but, even that became commonplace and the ceremonial aspect was removed in the 1960s in Ganado, AZ by Benny Silversmith and one other guy who's name escapes me. They removed a dance from a ceremony we have and turned it into a contest style of dance, to the chagrin of the old people I'm sure!!

.....but, I do take issue with some of the stuff that goes on in Navajoland with regards to gourd dancing.

...some of it just ain't right.
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Old 03-30-2004, 01:43 PM   #9
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Peyote at the drum? This now beats anything I ever heard of at an eastern powow!!!!!
AS a Life long member of the NAC, This is nuts. They are asking for trouble..It is abuse.. outside the ritual...arrrghghg! :explode:
Do you know what would happen if this was to occur at HOme (meaning here in OK) Well at lest you understand it doesn't belong there.
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Old 03-30-2004, 02:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEROSAGE
I know that the Quapaw Intertribal Gourd Dance Society sent a delegation to Carnegie, OK to meet with Kiowa Society leaders. This took place in the mid 80's. Grandad, Jack Greenback, was our Elder. (He has since passed). Our society was given permission to organize as a society. (This is a VERY simplified version). Many of our original members have passed.
_____

CherO:

Do you have any information as to which Kiowa organization the Quapaw's went to? Was it the Gourd Clan or the Tia Piah Society. I was not aware the Kiowas sanctioned the Quapaw. But the Quapaw are good people.
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Also, does anybody have any information about the regional gourd dance societies that I listed?
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Old 03-30-2004, 03:08 PM   #11
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Everyone always says the only tribe the Kiowa Gourd Clan's given permission to use the dance is the Otoe-Missouria, if that helps any. I don't know who Kiowa Tia-piah or Okla. Tia-piah's given it to. :)
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Old 03-30-2004, 03:12 PM   #12
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You can add this one to the list. I know nothing about the group, other than they typically serve as the color guard at events in Arizona.

The Arizona Territorial Gourd Society

....haven't a clue on who formed them or backed them, or on how many are in their ranks or where in Arizona they hail from. I've always been under the impression they're from Yuma or South of Phoenix or something.
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Old 03-30-2004, 03:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss_Kiowa
Everyone always says the only tribe the Kiowa Gourd Clan's given permission to use the dance is the Otoe-Missouria, if that helps any. I don't know who Kiowa Tia-piah or Okla. Tia-piah's given it to. :)
Miss_K:

I agree about the Gourd Clan and the Otoe-Missouria. *gives high five.

It is rumored that the South of Carnegie bunch has sanctioned several organizations.

I heard the Cherokees learned the gourd dance from Kenneth Anquoe. Any Cherokees around to vouch for this?
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Old 03-30-2004, 04:02 PM   #14
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Also . . .


Are there any Comanches, Cheyenne-Arapahos or Poncas in da' house, with a gourd dance origin story??????
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Old 03-30-2004, 04:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
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South of Carnegie bunch
*Haha*

That's exactly what I've always called them too. I guess because I'm always up in Carnegie Park and never made it to Chieftain (even the year I was Kiowa Princess :Blush), I'm not all sure who's involved down there.

Besides the Kiowa origin, I've never heard any other than the Comanche. I'd be curious to know what others are too.
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Old 04-01-2004, 03:44 AM   #16
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Whome, I believe our elders went to the Tia Piah Society. However, I am not remembering well. I will ask some of the others to see if they do remember. I was supposed to go on one of the trips but my military commitment prohibited the trip for me.
I have been told that the Kiowas gave permission to the Osage nation to have the Gourd Dance. Such we have the Osage Gourd Clan.
I don't know how the Cherokees of OK got the Gourd Dance. I do remember when Kennet Anquoe and Jack used to sing alot at the dances in the east/ northeast OK area.
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Old 04-01-2004, 10:02 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
It is rumored that the South of Carnegie bunch has sanctioned several organizations.
The "South of Carnegie bunch" (and specifically the folks at Chieftain Park, as opposed to those farther south) have sanctioned at least three that I know of. Texas Kiowa Tia-Piah based in Crowley, Texas (south of Ft Worth); Gulf Coast Tia-Piah based in the Houston and southeast Texas areas; and Memphis Tia-Piah in Tennessee.
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Old 04-01-2004, 10:57 AM   #18
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It is easy to get caught up in elements of the modern powwow and not have the faintest idea about the history, origin and evolution of the dances that we all so much enjoy.

I sincerely appreciate all those who have posted so far.

Again I am requesting information on gourd dance origin stories from the Cheyenne-Arapaho, Comanche and Ponca.

(C'mon, not having access to a computer is NOT an excuse!)

*L

j/k*
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Old 04-07-2004, 01:29 AM   #19
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Cherokee Gourd

From what i was told , on July 4 1986 Charlie Soap & John Butler went to Carnegie,OK to the Kiowa Gourd Clan annual
& met with Taft Hainta & the other Headsmen, Jack Anquoe
acted as the go-between & spoke for them (Kenneth was suposted to do this but was unable to attend, John was not sure Jack would do this but Kenneth told him to" tell him I said do it") Jack went to the headsmen & talked then came back to Charlie & John asked some questions then went back to the headsmen ( John said this went on all afternoon) then at the nights dance Charlie & John were called forward ,their names & why they were there was announced , presents
were given for the right & then an honnor dance was given &
All were asked to "come & dance with our brothers from the east" . The dance was then taken back to Tahlequah & is still there today. Though it seems not to have the sprit today as it had in the begining.


PS: Now that Taft & many of the Headsmen & members have "gone on" the Kiowa Gourd Clan will not recognize
the Cherokee
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Old 04-07-2004, 11:11 AM   #20
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What I heard....
The Cheyenne claim it as a dance belonging to their Bow String Society. The history that I got was that over a battle between the Cheyenne and Kiowa on Walnut Creek in the Tx Panhandle in 1840. The Cheyenne Bowstrings were camped there and the Kiowa discovered them dancing. Kiowas expressed peaceful intent and interest in learning the dance...Cheyennes taught them and then the Kiowa wiped out all the Bowstrings...40+ Cheyennes. Later, a lasting peace was established between the two tribes and they along with the Comanche and Arapaho became an effective barrier against anybody who tried to cross or live in their territory. The Bowstrings were re-organized and called Owl Man's BowString Society or later just the BowString's. Several of the songs the Kiowa use as GD songs are also used today as BowString Society songs. I guess the Bowstrings still dance today and Iíve heard they still have a few original songs that the Kiowa didn't steal.

Then I heard the Kiowa stole it from the Comanche war society called Little Horses and Big Horses, and that many of the songs were old Comanche Sun Dance songs...called Big Arbor songs, and that some of the songs were made by Post Oak Jim for individual Comanche families as brush dance songs

There's also several songs the Ponca use for Soldier Dance and Scalp Dance.
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