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Gourd Dance, Dying? Or resurgance?

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  • #16
    Many NAC members and roadmen that happen to also be gourd dancers have been/are making an effort to limit the use of a gourd rattle to the NAC. Asking/incourgaing gourd dancers to stick to using the metal cans for their rattles. Your BSA fella had probably had this conveyed to him and unfortunately was not very good at explaining why he had been told (and being a scout he was probably 'told' and not asked) not to use them. My Kiowa dad's (who has passed now) in particular encouraged this point at every dance we attended.
    PB49

    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda


    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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    • #17
      How can we learn....

      Bullcreekldy --- your comments about your experiences really struck a nerve with me. I had similar experiences too! As a matter of fact, I have not dressed out in 5 years because of something that happened to me -- really harsh personal criticsm. Now I am ready to get back in the circle -- in my regalia and just dance for the love of it.

      I too try to help others who are newbies. I have many years' experience and a lot of compassion to give them. It helps us ALL if we share our knowledge in a good way instead of just criticizing or trying to put someone down to puff yourself up.

      Besides, what goes around....comes around!!!!

      Aho!
      Shawl Lady

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      • #18
        I try to understand the frustration of those that aren't brought up with the Gourd Dance. I wear my Battleblancket with the Red on the left. That is just how I was taught and how my society does things. I also have both a Gourd and metal rattles. I also have a Church Gourd and fan. I use my dads church fan while Gourd dancing some times now. I will use my Gourd rattle when the event feels right and my metal rattle when the HeadGourd dancer has his or if it just doesn't feel right.

        I have tried to help some, but find that many don't want to learn the right way. They seem to want to keep doing things their way. I will say nothing else and go away. Perhaps it's because I'm not an old one. I don't always know why we do things the way we do, but just because. I think that maybe too many people that aren't really in the know are trying to teach those that are. This may be a reason that the elders don't bother helping unless asked. Too many new agers and Wannabes out there doing their own thing trying to mix too many traditions, making a mess out of everything.

        I will respect the (?) because that tells me that the person asking is wanting to know the right ways. They not wanting to go out there and look out of place. Those that know will usually shy away from these that obviously don't seem to know. Like wearing a hat, not showing due respect, improper clothing, not following protocol, etc. I believe that if anyone would just watch and learn the right ways before doing things would not get all fouled up.
        BOB

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        • #19
          Gourd Dancing

          What you say is so true, Bob. Too many people following different traditions or ones they or their teacher made up.

          As a woman, I admire watching the men who are doing it right and showing respect for the old traditions. That makes me feel good and proud. I like to honor them by dancing on the edge of the circle with them, show them my support, and participate in honor dances. I do this on my own for now. But soon I hope to be invited to join a gourd dance society in the role of War Mother or auxillary or whatever the society has.

          My feeling about this is very strong. I want to gourd dance for my husband who was wounded in Viet Nam and who is now a disabled vet. He was brave and selfless in that war and saved many men as an Army medic. He has a bunch of medals for his service, but that did not heal his inner wounds. He suffered physically and mentally in later years because of what happened to him in the war, but he never admitted it until he met me.

          Now, he is disabled and I am his care-giver and am devoted to making him happy and comfortable. It is important to me to honor him because I know he was a fearless warrior in his younger days.

          I have found healing for us both by dancing and by going to sweat lodge ceremonies as often as possible (he can't do either any more). We are both very involved in our local ndn community and have been supporting our local rehab facility for several years. By connecting to our roots and following the path shown to us by the Creator, we are made to feel good.

          In turn, we help others to find their way to this path, the Red Path, where they connect to their roots and traditions. This is good too because the more people who learn about tribal traditions, respect them and follow them, the better for our community, our country, our world. I try to teach new agers and wannabes too, because their heart may be in the right place, but they are just ignorant. If they learn the right way, then it's better for them and for us. If they are just tourists and don't care, I make sure they learn about etiquette at least.

          I have rambled on here and will quit now.

          Aho!
          Shawl Lady

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          • #20
            Bob,
            That may be there are a lot of newagers Ill admit that. But what about those of us who one were to shy to ask fo help. Or in my situation, was blown off because I look white and people automatically assume I am asking because I want to act indian. And dont say that I am making assumtions people flat out told me that they didnt feel a white girl needed to act indian. that was why I stopped. it was only when I got involved with people who were previously labeled "new" and "inexperianced" in the native world. Only when I got involved with them was i taught anything. I dont know Im rambling but its different for men. I hate to say it but a lot of women are catty and witchy especially if we feel our territory is being invaded on if you get my meaning. I dont know Im rambling so I will stop now
            When your in the arena nothing matters but the step of your feet, the sway of your fringe and the beat of the drum. ~Peace love and fry bread.~

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            • #21
              Thanks ShawlLady. I know some Indian Vets that participate in their wheel chair. I don't know if your husband is able or not but this may be a solution. You can dance right with him to assist him as needed. I don't think much would be said about this if you dance just off to his back and side. I think your heart is in the right way. Just find the right tutors to be friends with.

              BullcreekLdy: What you say is pretty much the way it is sorry to say. BUT, I think it is still possible to get the help you need. Keep going to the events in your area, talk to Indian elders respectfully. Make friends with the people in your age group with no strings attached. I do believe that these Indian people will warm up to you and trust you. You must help yourself too. Watch and learn, listen to these Indian elders comments. Compare what your contemporary friends share with you and what you observe about the things these people that do know give back to you. They will give you their info through body language, their comments to each other, and to you. I know it is not easy to get into the our group, especially if you don't necessarily look Inidan. Good luck, and keep the faith. Don't give up.
              BOB

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              • #22
                I appreciate reading everyone's comments about Gourd Dancing.

                Yesterday I dressed out and went to our local pow wow, just to do volunteer work. I talked to everyone there -- vendors, staff, visitors, greeted them all to our pow wow. Part of my job on the Board of Directors for 3 Rivers Indian Lodge is to serve on welcoming committees at events, to talk to people about 3 Rivers, and to sell our CD's and tee shirts as a fundraiser. So I had fun visiting with old friends and making new ones yestersay.

                I have been passing the word, quietly, I was interested in groud dancing. On Friday afternoon I had a wonderful surprise. I was told I would be invited into our local gourd dance society, and since I have no male kin members to bring me in, they will pay my way in. They will also do an honor dance for my disabled vet husband today. I am overwhelmed with joy and honored that I am being accepted in this way.

                For me, the Gourd Dance is the best part of the pow wow. Perhaps it is fond memories of dances I went to in Oklahoma, and also because I admire and support what the Gourd Dancers do.
                Since I have no male kin as a member, I am adopting the local group as they are adopting me. It is a happy day!

                By the way, my disabled husband can't be out in the heat, as he quickly gets heat exhaustion (it happened at the last 2 pow wows, one required a trip by ambulance to the ER 20 miles away). He usually goes to events in a wheelchair now and only when it is cool enough for him. He will go this evening for our Traditional Dinner and for the evening dance session.

                I will be dancing for joy today! He is proud of me for dressing out and dancing, and for my commitment to 3 Rivers Indian Lodge. He knows I do it for him, for his healing, as well as for my own healing of spirit.

                Aho!
                Shawl Lady

                Comment


                • #23
                  This is great news. I hope and pray that you have a fun time. Sorry to hear that your husband has a hard time in the heat. Perhaps he can dance at a dinner dance or some dance when the weather cooperates. Have fun and enjoy yourself, this is the utmost important part of the dance.

                  Good luck and congratulations on your acceptance.
                  BOB

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                  • #24
                    Thanks for your kind words, Bob. The Gourd Dancing went well on Sat. We had more than 20 Gourd Dancers and a few ladies too. The Gourd Dancers were local, and some from other states. It got mighty hot (90 at noon) and water was brought around often. Here we pass out individual cold bottled water, instead of passing 'round the bucket and ladle. Some people are leery of the bucket and ladle, I hear.

                    As a 3 Rivers Lodge Board member, I was called on to assist with the presentation to the group of Elders we were honoring, both men and women Elders. We gave out beautiful framed certificates of appreciation, a blanket for each man, a shawl for each woman, a bundle of white sage and a packet of tobacco. It was a lovely ceremony.

                    Other than those 2 events, I was pretty busy at our information booth, selling CD's and tee shirts and giving important information like where is the snowcone booth and where can I set up my chairs. Some older graduates of our rehab program stopped by and that was very cool.

                    By mid-afternoon was 95 and the place was packed with visitors, dancers, vendors, campers, volunteers, news people and whatnot. It was a hot chaotic afternoon. Other than the morning Gourd Dance I didn't get to dance. Too busy! Then went home to get my husband for the evening session, but he was feeling sick. So I stayed home to look after him.

                    We are going this morning when it's cool.

                    Aho!



                    :)
                    Shawl Lady

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                    • #25
                      Sounds like a good time, enjoy.
                      BOB

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                      • #26
                        Sunday at the 3 Rivers Pow Wow turned out better than the first 2 days. I got to Gourd Dance and had my husband present. They honored him by wearing his Silver Star with oak leaf cluster ribbon from Viet Nam for us. I also got in plenty of intertribal dancing with some young newcomers and good friends too. Everyone had fun, as the high was only 87 and we had a nice breeze. We made some new friends and visited with old friends.

                        I also got raffle duty and we gave away about 16 nice items.

                        The most fun part was watch a thing called Team Dancing where 3 competitors teamed up and danced in unison and made up some pretty clever steps together. It was really cool to watch and the crowd loved it.

                        We all went home hot tired and happy. It was a very good day.
                        Shawl Lady

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                        • #27
                          bob,
                          I have already moved on so to speak, I appreciate your advice,truthfully, I am ok, i have family outside the native community who give more strength than you can imagine. But truthfullyat this point I am worried about the younger ones who havent learned to keep their back straight and keep working. Ya know? Those are the ones we need to help. I was older when I got involved, and like I said I have famly wh taught me to be strong and hold myself proud, I was very fortunate. But what about young ones who dont have those benefits?? I dont know I dont think this is making any sense.
                          When your in the arena nothing matters but the step of your feet, the sway of your fringe and the beat of the drum. ~Peace love and fry bread.~

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Bullcreeklady - I know what you are saying, and have experienced the "you don't look Indian" response from some people. But you shouldn't let them stop you. Keep making contact with others, talk to people at pow wows about your concerns. You will find the person or group that wants to help you. Don't give up!

                            Once people see that your heart is good, that you are sincere, and that you do have tribal heritage, they will help and welcome you into their circle. It just takes time, especially when you have not been raised in a Native American community.

                            Think of all the hurting, alienated urban Indians in our country -- sick at heart, sick in body, or sick in mind, because they don't have their tribal connection. They were never taught the right way, or their language, customs, spiritual beliefs, or anything. They only feel that they don't fit in anywhere. Many are addicted to alcohol or drugs and some get help through Indian rehab programs like Native Directions. Those are the lucky ones because they finally do find what they need to heal and be strong. They find their way on the Red Path. Many of them, in turn, reach out to help others to heal, get strong, and find the Red Path.

                            I see this in the work being done at 3 Rivers Indian Lodge in California. There are places like this everywhere, but you have to ask and look. There are county and state health and mental health services, which also can network you to other groups for the help you seek. There are Indian job placement agencies and cultural centers. Many colleges now even teach Native American languages. I found a wealth of information on that just doing a simple search on the internet.

                            Another way is to contact your local tribal council or group and tell your story to them. If you have tried before, try again and talk to someone else. Make them know you are determined to find your people and of your concerns for the younger generation. You will find the person or persons who will listen and help you.

                            I talk too much. I wish you well and hope you will get the help you seek soon. Aho!
                            Shawl Lady

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                            • #29
                              Shawl lady,
                              I need to thank you for your kind words of advice. I am learning to keep trying it was hard, and actually I am happy now at least with my life. I am afraid for others though,I mean I am one person, and im not stupid or even oblivious, I know that I cant help a lot of people but my goal is to do a lot to help one person. sometimes I get discouraged though especially when I see little kids being critisized for learning. does that make any sense?
                              When your in the arena nothing matters but the step of your feet, the sway of your fringe and the beat of the drum. ~Peace love and fry bread.~

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Well, yes it makes sense that a caring person would get discouraged at what senseless fools do to innocent children, criticizing them or putting them down.

                                Our children and grandchildren are our future. We must make sure they are taught the traditions, the right way of living in harmony with the Creator and all his creatures, that all our natural world has spirits which are to be respected, that we must learn our tribal customs, languages, stories, dances, arts, history and music and keep it alive, keep it going through them.

                                We have come dangerously close to losing ALL of our precious Native American knowledge and wisdom, spirituality, langauges, and traditions, long kept hidden and secret from the world. Now is the time to light the fires of knowledge, to pass on the old ways of healing, living, caring for others, art and music forms, stories and history and to light that precious fire in our young ones. Now that its cool to be ndn, there are no barriers to bringing back into the light all of the wisdom and old ways -- it is the only way we can ALL heal, and the only way we can heal Mother Earth. This I firmly believe.

                                So, never give up. Keep trying. Help one person. That person will help another, and so on. Keep the circle of life going because we are all connected. It is the way our Creator meant for us to be.

                                Blessings on you and your family. May you walk in sunlight with smiles on your faces and dance on the soft grass with joy. May your dreams be filled with good and helpful spirits bringing messages to lead you farther along on this good Red Path. May you sing the old songs proudly and loudly. May you stand tall and hold your head high, as the Creator made you to be.

                                Aho.
                                Shawl Lady

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