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Ring Around The Tail Stick

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  • Ring Around The Tail Stick

    Hello relatives! Well as the season is in full swing, I figure the best way to figure out who is the best dancer is to get out and see 'em! Nuff reading about them!

    Here is a question... the tail stick on the ground debate, some say it is ok to 'plant' the stick down and dance around it. I have heard that it is a 'challenge' and a throwback from the old war leashes. The counter is that it is not supposed to be done. I was wondering why not? For those of you from the tail dance traditions, is it related to the arena floor and what goes there? I had heard that the sticks were used to check dead bodies and were to prevent a man from coming into contact with fallen warriors medicine.

    Ok, well I hope this leads to some lively discussion and if you want PM me, by all means! I hope you and yours are in good health and having a great summer! Hey Hey Hey!

  • #2
    Dance around the Tail Stick

    There may be traditions among some tribes that I am not aware of that would allow for this practice, but to my knowledge, the Tail Stick is carried by an appointed Tail Dancer or someone who has previously served as an appointed Tail Dancer in the Ponca Hethuska, Osage Inlonshka or the Comanche War Dance Organization.

    These Tail Sticks represent the long crook-ended coupsticks of long ago carried by warriors in battle who pledged to protect the end or "Tail" of a war party, hence the name. One of the duties of the Tail Dancer when out in the field was to gather wounded comrads from a battlefield. The crooked end was used to help the wounded to their feet, and the pointed end, frequently imbedded with a lance point, could be used as a weapon. The long crook-ended coupsticks or Tail Sticks would also be used to touch enemies thus counting "coup," as the French called it. Battle honors would have been tied to these coupsticks also. Therefore, the practice of "staking" the Tail Stick to the ground and dancing around it would not be appropriate for a dance item with this type of history and symbolism.

    However, "Sashwearers" in Warrior Societies like the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers would stake their long sashes to the ground with a lance, vowing to fight in that tight radius until killed or released by a fellow warrior. Perhaps this new dance practice has something more to do with that tradition, than the Tail Stick tradition.
    Historian
    Experienced
    Last edited by Historian; 04-06-2005, 06:53 PM.

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

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    • #3
      staking

      the planting of the tail stick is more of a powwow move and yrt it has some historical background. i was told that on trot songs during the honor beats the dancer goes down as they say and then the dancer can touch the tail stick on the ground. now the tail stick is a badge of office that showed they were bad azzez. these guyz touched their enemy, directed other warriors, poked the dead to make certain of death, and staked them selves to the ground with these staffs as they would have been called then. to carry a tail staff is a great honor and its up to the individual dancer to decide how he is gona dance cuz he should be dancing for his family. so come up with your own interpretations and keep in mind the traditions from your elders and dance hard. oh yeah i plant my staff down and dance around it. i do this as in going around the enemy taunting them. and there is other meanings i have as well. lol and i've been coached by my bro jerod who gave me some moves to show off. lol. its crazy cuz i've noticed alot of dancers now doing this that did'nt b4. hmmmm. lol

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      • #4
        The Bill Wahnee family sponsored a straight dance contest special in Arizona, April, 1998. Bill, an ol' time Comanche dancer, told the judges what to look for. He said, and I paraphrase, the tail stick was not to touch Mother Earth, and that you were not to turn a small circle while dancing, because then you were turning your back to the enemy.
        Gledanh Zhinga
        Blacksmith
        Last edited by Gledanh Zhinga; 12-02-2007, 10:06 PM. Reason: typo

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        • #5
          Traditional vs Contemporary?

          This may be another example of the question being discussed on another thread. Is there a Traditional vs Contemporary style to Straight Dance?

          It would seem as though the "traditional" symbolism and use of a Tail Stick during a formal Dance Ceremony of Veteran's organizations such as the Hethuska, Iruska, Inlonshka, etc. is evolving into something else in the "contemporary" version of Straight Dance styles seen at Pow-Wows.

          "Be good, be kind, help each other."
          "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

          --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

          Comment


          • #6
            hmmm

            well i remember that special that uncle bill had in az. i was there, i traveled out there with them. lol. well, as bill told me, and he told me many things that i keep and use, thats his way of dancing. there was a ponca there that told me he judged on those rulez eventhough he didnt go by all those rulez. well, every tribe has there own style and rulez to the dance and thats why its also called southern traditional. i was told by omahas to not wear so many knives or actually not to wear them at all. this was because it is a dance and not a battle field. lol. i mean that the dance is in celebration and we arent actually fighting any one in the arena. northern style dancers get on the ground and sneak up on invisible enemy, but we southern guyz dont. we interpret the songs the best way we know how and celebrate a victory. its kinda like getting in a big fight with some other guyz and u with your boyz and you win. you know you gona talk crap and taunt the losers. you not gona play fight but you are gona act bad. lol. throw it in their faces. lol. so all im sayin is dance the way you were taught and do it well.

            Comment


            • #7
              What's the big deal

              Dancin at a powwow and dancing at a tail dance is clearly two different things. You would'nt expect to be picked as a judge at ponca hethuska or wait after grey horse for winners. So why everyone keep trippin on powwow dancing? You got dancers who dance for the money and dancers who dance for their families or some other traditional value. Contest dancing is by all means contest dancing. Every dancer out there contesting is after the money. Other wise you would'nt pinn on that number, make grand entries, make spot checks, make exhibitions, get exist points, make parade points, or sit around till moring tyme to see if you won if it was a traditional affair. Don't get me wrong there is protocal at tail dances, but its not as much as a contest powwow. most dancers at a contest save their moves till contest. hethuska dancers dance hard till they cant go no more then dance hard any way. So what's the big deal about what people do at contest powwows? The moves done there are done for the same reasons as i listed above. So get over it. If you want to get traditional, then dance only at traditional dances. If you can recognize the differnce in contest and tridish, then dance them both. Most dancers that do have a good time at them both because we get to meet up with people that we have'nt seen in a while. And its a reason to just dance, for what ever reason.

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