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Old 02-24-2009, 05:42 PM   #1
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The Hethuska


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The Hethushka is a warrior's dance society of the Ponca. Before the relocation of the Ponca to Oklahoma the Hethushka dances started. Today the Ponca hold their Hethushka Dance twice a year, once in the Spring, and once in the Fall.

Originally the organization was composed of the warriors, elders , and leaders of the tribe. These men worked to take care of the veterans, orphans, widowed, and elders. Even today, this is the obligation of the Hethuska member.

The dance has spread over the years to several other tribes and organizations. During the late 1800's, the Ponca tribe experience a severe depression. Because of the financial burdens of the dance, the tribe was no longer able to continue the dance. Fortunately the Ponca had given the drum (given the dance) to the Osage. The Osage were a very wealthy tribe because of the oil discovered on their land. The Osage held the dance for a number of years. They call the dance I'N-Lon-Schka , playground of the first born. For their dance the Osage hired the Poncas to sing. Because of this relationship, the Ponca were able to revive the dance in the early 1950's. As a singer for the Osage, Sylvester Warrior was able to bring the dance back to his people.

The Ponca have since that time given the drum to The California Hethushka, The Lone Star War Dance Society, The American Indianist Society, The White Bear Society, and the Commanche Tribe.

The dance of the Hethushka is a formal, structured dance. The society is lead by the Nudahonga. The Nudahonga selects other members of the society to serve as Whip Man, Tail Dancers, Head Cook, Crier, Historian, Drum Keeper, and Water Boys. The Tail Dancers dance every tail of the songs. Other dancers who wish to dance a tail must pay for the honor by giving to someone. The current Nudahonga of the Ponca Hethushka is Damon Roughface.

Some people believe that this dance is the origin of the modern Pow Wow. Some of the structure and organization can be seen in today's Pow Wows. The clothes worn by Straight Dancers come from these Hethuska Societies.

The Hethushka Dance has maintained its structure and organization over the years. Members of these societies still work to help the elders, veterans, orphans, and widows. The elegant clothes of these dancers is just one sign of their dedications and commitment to a way of life.

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Last edited by Paul G; 04-14-2009 at 04:17 PM..
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