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  • Is Straight Dancing Pan-Tribal?

    Is Straight Dancing Pan-Tribal?

    The Straight Dancing forum has been a little dead here lately, so I though I would try to liven it up a bit by making some observations and asking some questions. I certainly don’t intend any disrespect, so please don’t take anything I post in that way. I apologize ahead of time if I offend anyone, as this is not my purpose. I’m trying to understand and the only way I know how to satisfy my intellectual curiosity is to begin a discussion or an academic debate.

    It seems to me that powwows are, by nature, pan-tribal and public – and are meant to be that way. My understanding is that, historically, they grew out of a felt need for Native Americans from different tribal backgrounds to gather and share their cultural traditions. Powwows are FOR every Native American regardless of tribal affiliation.

    Powwows are also public. While the dance arena is sacred space, the powwow is very different from the ceremonies of tribes, bands, or societies (e.g. the Midewiwin, Sun Dance, Stomp Dance, Hethuska, etc.). Powwows are “open to the public,” while these other ceremonies and dances are “by invitation only.”

    Being pan-tribal and public, the gathering of Native Americans at powwows, historically, felt a need for shared dancing traditions that would bridge differing tribal practices so that all those gathered at a powwow could dance together. These pan-tribal dancing traditions, while new in a sense, were all based on older tribal or regional dances. To foster goodwill, excitement, and wider participation, the establishment of these new traditions naturally grew into competitions.

    Now it seems to me that cultural traditions all naturally evolve. Traditions that become stagnant are dead because they can no longer be appropriated by the next generation. It is the rate of change in cultural traditions that needs to be slowed or accelerated according to circumstances.

    Maybe it would be good for me to give an example at this point. While there is some debate on this, I have read that Jingle Dress dancing originated with the Ojibwe in the dream of a young woman who was told to use the dress and the dance for healing. The common feeling that I have seen among the Ojibwe is that this tribal tradition of theirs has naturally evolved into a pan-tribal style of powwow dancing. They, for the most part, are glad this has happened and consider this a gift from the Ojibwe to other Native Americans.

    I could be wrong, and if I am I hope someone respectfully points this out to me, but it seems to me from reading through the threads on this forum for the past year and more that Straight Dancing does not really fit into this mold of a pan-tribal style of powwow dancing. The members of the Southern Plains tribes in which this dance has its roots do not seem to be willing to give it to the powwow world as a gift, even though many Native Americans from other tribes seem eager to embrace it.

    I realize that Straight Dancing is still very much a part of the private ceremonial life of several religious societies of the Southern Plains tribes such as the Hethuska, Ilonshka, etc. I intend no disrespect. I am just trying to understand the dynamics here.

    Fancydancing (with its Kiowa roots), Grass Dancing (with its Northern Plains roots), and Jingle Dress Dancing (with its Ojibwe roots) are all examples of dance styles rooted in tribal or regional traditions that have evolved into truly pan-tribal traditions that are shared by all Native Americans. Each of these styles has found room for tribal or regional expressions in such things as beadwork and design.

    Even the traditional styles, both men’s and women’s, have found room for tribal expressions within that style. For example, it is very common to see Northern Plains style eagle bustles on Ojibwe traditional dancers. Neither the Ojibwe nor the Northern Plains people seem to mind this in the arena of pan-tribal powwow dancing. Again, what is appropriate for private ceremonial dancing is another question.

    Why is it that the people of the Southern Plains tribes that gave birth to the Straight Dance style so jealously guard this from other Native Americans? This has the effect of making Straight Dancing inter-tribal or regional rather than pan-tribal. Is that what you want?

    I am reminded of a parent who won’t allow their child to leave the home and strike out on its own. At some point a parent needs to let go and allow the child to become its own person. This is always painful for the parent, but it is also always necessary.


    edited to make font smaller only so it would be easier read ~mato
    Last edited by Mato Winyan; 08-27-2004, 12:41 PM.
    When you are born into this world you reach for either a bow and quiver, which is blessed by the Sun, our Grandfather, or you reach for an awl and sewing bag, which is blessed by the moon, our Grandmother. From that time on you will follow that vision and be blessed.

  • #2
    WBbear:

    You have a lot of questions to answer.

    The term "Pan-tribal or Indian" was applied to describe "multiple-tribes" by the late scholar James Howard in the 1950's.

    It is not a term commonly used by Indian people to describe themselves. How many Pan-Indians are actually Indian and admit it? *L

    The man dance ceremonies are just that, they are ceremonies and ceremonies are not meant to be shared with the public or other tribes unless there is a specific reason.

    The modern men's fancy dance as we know it, began with the Ponca, not the Kiowa.


    Not meaning to sound gruff, just trying to help.
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent!

      Very good points WisconsinBlackBear and a very good responding WhoMe.

      This Straight Dance Forum is usually bare. The good thing about that is that it does not get all that "crap" that some of the other forums get like "Sexist Dancer, Best Looking Dancer, Cutest Dancer, etc." The bad thing is that it does not get much interest and this is a great place to talk and discuss the style.

      Like WhoMe says, one does not hear the term "Pan-Tribal" much. But I have heard and still hear the term "Pan-Am" when referring to the "modern powwow." Neither term is bad or negative. One might say they are more the "technical" way to desribe a concept of "multi" and even "popular."

      Unfortunately, one must remember that in this present time, our culture has it "fads and fashions" pretty much like anything else. Things and styles come and go in popularity.

      Comment


      • #4
        Having grown up in the 60's I understand the term Pan-Indian to mean inter-tribal. This would make some of the clothing we have seen in the past making sense since many people mix-matched so many styles of dance, as well as mixing different Tribal clothing. Hollywood sure didn't help this Pan-Indian concept, Jay Silverheels- playing an Apache(?) dressed in I'm not sure. This is by no way a slam against Jay Silverheels but rather what Hollywood did to him. What about Ed Ames in Davy Crocket. I saw Ed one time when I was very young and he was wearing a full feather War Bonnett, at least it was Eagle, and buckskin clothes(tailored). Ed was Cherokee and we didn't us that type of head gear. These two people are just simple examples of what Hollywood did to Indian People.

        I'm not sure, but I would think the Billy Jack movies were the beginning of showing Indian people as just real people.

        All this said to say that Straight dancers, in what ever language, is a society. Whether Helonshka or Inlonshka this is a society( mens dance) Ceremonials. These ceremonials have been shared among the different tribes that practice this way of life. Key term is ceremonial.

        With the advent of super means of travel we are now living in places far from our home lands and tribes. Many tribes have been colocated together, and these people are normally not related. With this colocation many ways were adopted by none related peoples. In addition to the adopted ways many of us are here as multiple mixed "InterTribal" marriages. For those still of one tribe be sure you learn your ways, for the rest of us we need to learn the many different ways and try not to mix the ways toooo terribly.

        Just my thoughts on this Topic!!
        BOB

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by WhoMe
          WBbear:

          You have a lot of questions to answer.

          The term "Pan-tribal or Indian" was applied to describe "multiple-tribes" by the late scholar James Howard in the 1950's.

          It is not a term commonly used by Indian people to describe themselves. How many Pan-Indians are actually Indian and admit it? *L

          The man dance ceremonies are just that, they are ceremonies and ceremonies are not meant to be shared with the public or other tribes unless there is a specific reason.

          The modern men's fancy dance as we know it, began with the Ponca, not the Kiowa.


          Not meaning to sound gruff, just trying to help.
          Goot points WhoMe. And thanks for the recognition of Poncas starting the Fancy Dance. I was all..."WHAT??: *L*

          One example I can think of in tribes "sharing" in ceremonial dances would be the Wahzhazhe Inlonska. The Kaw (Kanza) were the ones who had this dance and when we were forced to move to Oklahoma we gave it to the Ooooo-sages to carry on within their tribe. It's pretty interesting learning the history of that. That is why there are or at least used to be quite a few Kaws that would go to the Osage Dances in June to participate and remember. I still try to go over there once a year at least in respect to my family that's gone on to carry on that tradition.

          But this is totally straying from the topic. So I'll stop now!

          I just had to put my two cents in from a "tribe mixing" perspective. *L* Thanks!



          Mussy by birth.....Native by the Grace of God.......


          Comment


          • #6
            This is turning into an excellent discussion. Thanks to all for participating.

            I apologize for mixing up the origin of fancydancing. I relied on my memory for this rather than looking it up first. Sorry for the confusion.

            I was using the terms "pan-tribal" and "intertribal" in a technical sense. The prefix "pan-" meaning pertaining to the whole or ALL the parts thereof, while the prefix "inter-" meaning "among." So, "pan-tribal" I use to refer to something that pertains to ALL Native American tribes, while "intertribal" means something shared among tribes, but not necessarily ALL of them.

            For example, the religious use of eagle feathers can be called pan-tribal, while the lazy-stitch style of beadwork is more properly intertribal, i.e. among the Plains tribes.

            I don't know how common the usage of these terms are, I was just using them strictly according to the meaning of the prefixes.

            To throw another question into the mix: I was intrigued by Cherosage's post. He contends that Straight dancing is ceremonial in nature. My question, then, would be: Should Straight Dancing be a category of competitive powwow dancing or should its appearance at powwows be more like gourd dancing, which is, if I understand correctly, never competitive?
            When you are born into this world you reach for either a bow and quiver, which is blessed by the Sun, our Grandfather, or you reach for an awl and sewing bag, which is blessed by the moon, our Grandmother. From that time on you will follow that vision and be blessed.

            Comment


            • #7
              BlackBear I would like to respectfully point out to you that you are wrong. Because, the "ceremonials" are open to the public. There have always been visitors of other tribes to come and take part at these places where "ceremonials" take place. There have been men from the Northern Tribes to come and celebrate. Fancy Dancers come and dance and take part in the celebration. Although, the "ceremonial" is NOT a pow-wow. And, as far as not being willing to give this dance to the pow-wow world as gift, if that's what you want to do, then do it. No one will say anything. If you're eager to embrace it, then by-all-means embrace it.
              wa-zha-zhe

              Comment


              • #8
                Good point Wha-zha-zhe. I remember seeing Northern Traditionals and occassional fancys sitting on the guest bench across the way as well as dance. (As everyone, men, Dances). I like thinking back as a child and being in awe of the 100's of big guys everywhere.
                BOB

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wa-zha-zhe
                  BlackBear I would like to respectfully point out to you that you are wrong. Because, the "ceremonials" are open to the public. There have always been visitors of other tribes to come and take part at these places where "ceremonials" take place. There have been men from the Northern Tribes to come and celebrate. Fancy Dancers come and dance and take part in the celebration. Although, the "ceremonial" is NOT a pow-wow. And, as far as not being willing to give this dance to the pow-wow world as gift, if that's what you want to do, then do it. No one will say anything. If you're eager to embrace it, then by-all-means embrace it.
                  Are the ceremonials you refer to "open to the public" in the same way that pow wows are open to the public? In other words, do you advertise, sell tickets, or charge admission? I was talking about the difference between "open to the public" and "by invitation only." It still sounds to me like the ceremonials you refer to are "by invitation only."

                  I didn't realize that this discussion was about what I wanted to do, but rather an attempt at understanding what is already happening.
                  When you are born into this world you reach for either a bow and quiver, which is blessed by the Sun, our Grandfather, or you reach for an awl and sewing bag, which is blessed by the moon, our Grandmother. From that time on you will follow that vision and be blessed.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by WisconsinBlackBear
                    I was using the terms "pan-tribal" and "intertribal" in a technical sense. The prefix "pan-" meaning pertaining to the whole or ALL the parts thereof, while the prefix "inter-" meaning "among." So, "pan-tribal" I use to refer to something that pertains to ALL Native American tribes, while "intertribal" means something shared among tribes, but not necessarily ALL of them.

                    For example, the religious use of eagle feathers can be called pan-tribal, while the lazy-stitch style of beadwork is more properly intertribal, i.e. among the Plains tribes.

                    I don't know how common the usage of these terms are, I was just using them strictly according to the meaning of the prefixes.
                    __

                    WBB:

                    Thanks for giving the literal translation of "Pan" vs. "Inter" in the context of inclusion of "All Indians." Pan is not commonly used by Indian people to describe the catch all phrase "all Indians." Though not a universal term, "Intertribal" is a lot more common to hear coming from Indian people. As in Intertribal Powwows.

                    Using the word "Pan" by someone usually is a dead giveaway that this person has done research and/or reading about Indians by Non-Indian authors OR Indians who are in academia.

                    I did some quick field research on some grass roots skins and asked them if they knew their tribes collectively were referred to ask Pan-Indian. . .

                    And their response?

                    "What? Peter Pan? Gawww. *L Fried Bread Pan? Gaaaaaw. *L What? Pan Pizza? AAAyee! *L Damn you're making us hungry!"
                    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      BlackBear, these tribal dance's are "open to the public", I've never heard of anyone being turned away. And yes, there are many people "invited", as well. Oh yeah, there is no admission charge, advertisements or tickets sold. Hope this helps you.
                      wa-zha-zhe

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Do they still sell chances on a Cedar Chest at Pawhuska? At least the 3 times I was there someone was peddling tickets for a chance on a Cedar Chest full with itmes too. hmmmmmm

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I Don't Know Much...

                          Hey hey hey! Something was mentioned about gourd dance and straight dance? I don't know much but I was always told the gourd dance was about those songs more than the dancing. I guess that is why you don't see gourd dance contests. Also, straight dance as I have learned it can be about the dance so you find it commonly in contest and pow wow even though it's roots are in other places. I have heard debate about if it is ok to contest a trot song if you are not going to sing a set of them or ruffle songs for that matter.

                          As far as those ceremonies go, invitation is a tricky subject when you take it literally. When you think about it, it is so much more than just the dance so it is easy for people to participate even though they are sittin out or whatever. I guess purpose is the difference here. Do you put the clothes on to socialize or otherwise? In my humble opinion, that is the difference.

                          Hey Who Me... did you say pan cakes? Heyyy! Fat Albert can eat!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Maybe I can toss in a couple a cents...

                            I think maybe the reason that the Straight Dance isn't as widespread as maybe the Fancy (War) Dance is because it's not as exciting to the crowd. The Northern Tradish (especially the bare-chested ones) get lots of female followers while the straight dancers in their "tuxedos" are more likely ignored. And the young guys generally like to be more physical than the straight dance allows. But, I have a young son who danced Northern until he was about 17, when he switched to Southern and has danced that ever since. His bustle hangs over his bed, gathering dust. But a young guy in Straight Dance is relatively rare, I would like to see more enter this category. I think Straight Dance is beautiful in its more fluid style of dance.
                            Note on the origins of Fancy Dance and maybe why people get mixed up as to where it came from. Woogie Watchetaker was probably the most famous Fancy Dancer in the 60s and he was Kiowa.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Donna D
                              Maybe I can toss in a couple a cents...

                              The Northern Tradish (especially the bare-chested ones) get lots of female followers while the straight dancers in their "tuxedos" are more likely ignored. . . . . But a young guy in Straight Dance is relatively rare, I would like to see more enter this category. . .

                              Note on the origins of Fancy Dance and maybe why people get mixed up as to where it came from. Woogie Watchetaker was probably the most famous Fancy Dancer in the 60s and he was Kiowa.
                              __

                              Donna,

                              Keep your two-cents.

                              *L *Shakes Head :duhh:

                              Does "AAAnyone wanna humor her?"
                              Last edited by WhoMe; 08-26-2004, 05:31 PM.
                              Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                              Comment

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