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Female Fancy Feather Dancers?

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  • Female Fancy Feather Dancers?

    Howdy folks:

    Am new to the boards, and am looking for a little help you veteran dancers out there might be able to give me. Back in
    the mid-1990's, I went to college with a gal from Sisseton,
    SD, and we were working together on the college powwow we hold in May on our campus. Talk turned to a conversation about a women's drum group, that had started up here in the Minneapolis area, and the problems they had been having in gaining some acceptance at the powwows (we had invited them up to our powwow). That led to some talk about a very VERY small number of female grass dancers (of the yarn variety, not the old-style
    men's bustle type), that we used to have here around our part of the country. The Sisseton gal recalled, from her high school days, also seeing a young woman in SoDak who fancy feather danced, but didn't know her personally, nor the gal's name. We're working on a project down here in Minneapolis about some of the problems women have had in tackling fields that were, and are,
    the men's domain, not judging it one way or the other whether they should be doing these things, but just to get their views on why they do men's dances, singing, drumming, and the problems they've had from the community at large (or the acceptance, if that's the case). Any of you dancers out there come across female
    fancy feather dancers in your travels, personally know any, or have an idea of some communities we could get in touch with to
    talk to the ladies taking part in feather dancer (or grass, also).
    I've been told female grass dancers are not totally uncommon in Canada, but no idea if that's true. Anyway, thanks for any help or ideas or personal recollections you folks can give. Private emails
    are fine, if you want to respond that way.


  • #2
    I haven't seen any female fancy feather dancers since I've been alive...My grandparents tell me about them back when the women started fancy feather dancing, competing, and placing in the men's comps. I had bought this video on men's fancy dancing for my little brother because that's what style he originally wanted to dance. In the video it had all the history of the dance. There were pictures of the women fancy feather dancers too! They were all in black and white of course, but it was still amazing to see them. Growing up I never even thought about the concept of women fancy feather dancers, of course, I did know how fancy shawl dancing came from fancy feather dancing and the women involved in it. That's about all the input I have for now...


    MizzQaqimat's Space


    • #3
      I disagree, it shouldn't be, same with them at the drum (even tho my own mom used to do it) it's still a no no. But as with the new-age contemp pow-wow it's becoming so americanized, equal-rights everything and everyone has to have fun or else.

      ching ching

      2 cents.
      ...jus put on Mandareeeee....


      • #4
        folks--women fancy dancers have been aroung for a long time. One time I was talking to Gus Mcdonald's sister who told me when she was young, she had occasion to dance in her brother's place. He had been paid to put on exhibitions and was unable to fulfull his obligation, so his sister donned his clothes and went on in his place. This happened several times. This was in the 30's or 40s. I also remember in the 70's, Gigi Palmer used to fancy dance at the local pow-wows in Apache. She was really good. She was also very smooth and graceful in her moves. This focus on a men-only tradition in this area is not valid. I'm sure this has occurred more often than you may realize.


        • #5
          If you look at the book that C. Scott Evans and Rex Reddick put out you will see several ladys who used to where mens fancy clothes. A woman placed at the Tulsa pow-wow, even today a member of the Anitihey family wears bustles and its a female.
          If I do not know the answer someone else will!!!!
          Also forgive me, this system does not have a spell check so forgive the bad spelling


          • #6
            When I was young I fancy feathered danced. I wore my brothers old bustles. I rarely saw any fancy shawl dancers then. We didn't even call it fancy shawl, it was northern style! So, I did fancy feather because I didn't really care for and wasn't any good at the southern womens dances. I stopped once I reached a certain age however, and it was no longer a good thing to be mistaken for a boy! I think you know what age I mean! LOL I then danced womens cloth and buckskin. Fancy shawl became big and I switched to that. Much more comfortable to me! If you watch close some times when I'm dancing you'll see me all of a sudden throw in a fancy feather move! It just comes out! Oh well! Something different to catch the judges eye!!


            • #7
              It wasn't uncommon in Oklahoma during WWII when a lot of the young men were gone to see women fancy dancing. My friend, the late Yogi Panzer, even competed in this style when she was young.


              • #8
                My mother used to dance fancy bustle and used to also dance the hoop dance.
                My grandfather taught her.

                Later she used to have a unique style of shawl dance. She was good at both.

                A friend of my dad, once told me the guys would tease my dad when he danced fancy.
                They would say, you should just let her wear your stuff, she's better! My dad was a good sport about it all.

                This was back in the 60's and early 70's.
                But, in the early 90's we had a little girl grass dancer in our community. She would
                out shine all the little boys and win all the time. She was so good to watch. It would make
                you feel good how much she would get into her moves. Today she does Jingle and she's a teen.

                When it comes to women beating on the drum, I got a hang up about that, I say no. I think women back up singers are great, beautiful voices, but to actually sit and beat and sing, I think you cross to much. My vote is no.


                • #9


                  • #10
                    I've only seen one women fancy bustle dancer in my life - in person - and that was Michael Rose's wife at the Chickahominy Pow-wow years ago. She rocked the category!! It was a while ago - I remember going, who's that? And even going to Michael and asking who she was - and about died when he said, My wife!
                    Everything is gonna be alright!

                    Be blessed - got love???

                    This b me.....



                    • #11
                      I have seen some dancers trade places. There were a couple of competitions around for them (early 90's) not major money, but more for fun on the trail. An elder did not like it, dissed what was happening, and I've never seen it again. Me, I like to think that one should do as they like. I am a female, and I love to dance, I used to were my brothers bustles along time ago, just practising around the house though and it was fun, but as I was getting at, how many men would were a dress and a shawl? HA HA!!


                      • #12
                        Girl Fancy Featherer's!!

                        Well up here in Canda there are only two cases I know about woman dancing Fancy Bustle. In Saskatchewan...there was Donny Speidels younger sister...she danced all the time...but i think she gave it up...and just this past summer i seen a girl in Junior boys dancing Fancy Feather...she was from the Poundmaker first nation. So it isn't really uncommon up here, but then you don't see a lot of it. I don't have anything really against's just their own preference. I know I've dance in a couple switch dances, and danced grass. But it was all for fun. I know some people don't approve with that aspect. But then again, like a Thread i started, this kind of ties in with how evolved powwows will get. Will there be more women taking over men's roles? Who knows... but ya...that's all i have to say about that!!



                        • #13
                          I personally don't see anything wrong with it...have seen some women dance better than men at it...hehe

                          Work like you don't need the money, Love like you've never been hurt, and Dance like no one is watching.


                          • #14
                            hey folks I have to relatives that danced this way for a while in Oklahoma. One was Gigi Palmer, & Gwen Shanatona, they were two of the best that some of the people have seen for a while. They would beat some of the men and that is why people have a hard time with this. I talk to my aunt's all the time when I see them and they say some times the other dancers got mad. So it kind of depends on where you go, from what they were telling me. But that all that I know about good topic.


                            • #15
                              Jon Jon Lane was another Oklahoma girl who danced fancy - back in the 60's &'70's. She won several contests including the Indian Expo at Anadarko. She is one of the girls in the Full Circle video about fancy dancing.



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