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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?
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    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.
    BOB

    Comment


    • #3
      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?
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        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.
        Last edited by WhoMe; 03-30-2004, 11:43 AM.
        Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

        Comment


        • #5
          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.
          My bark is worse than my bite

          Comment


          • #6
            ...gullible Navajos

            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. I’m 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 it’s good that you DO correct us, and you really do need to.......it’s your way’s not ours. I also think you need to slap some restraints on your own people so they don’t come out here, .....taking advantage of gullible Navajos!! LMAO!!!

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            • #7
              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.
              ___

              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.
              Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

              Comment


              • #8
                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.
                  My bark is worse than my bite

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.
                    ____


                    Also, does anybody have any information about the regional gourd dance societies that I listed?
                    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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. :)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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?
                          Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Also . . .


                            Are there any Comanches, Cheyenne-Arapahos or Poncas in da' house, with a gourd dance origin story??????
                            Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WhoMe
                              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.

                              Comment

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