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Who can be a Straight Dancer

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  • Who can be a Straight Dancer

    I am an advisor for a Order of the Arrow Dance team.
    At a recient event several knowledgeable individuals came to me and indicated that one of my young men would make a good Straight Dancer. Several weeks later I mentioned this to a friend who said that only Veterans could be Straight Dancers.

    My question is this true. We are starting to go to Pow Wow's and
    I do not want to do anything that goes aganist tradition. I know that at the OA's National Convention there is a competition class for Straight Dancers.

    My goal is for my young men to learn and appricate the Native American traditions. To be able to enter the Arbor, and not offend
    anyone. To enjoy the good feelings that come from dancing in the Circle. In some cases to appricate their heriatge and in others to learn and understand others.

  • #2
    Your friend is incorrect about only vets being allowed to straight dance. I know far too many straight dancers that aren't vets for that to be true. Now as for entering the arena and not offending 'anyone'...well that aint very likely. You can never please everyone and there are some that will not want your boys there based only on there skin color and not their actions.

    Now you are likely to be told on this board that as a scout group you should stay out of dancing and Indian culture all together, however that is not the only opinion on the subject. You and your boys should learn all you can about dance clothes/styles and were they come from before they just try to dive in. A good idea is to attend a few dances, volunteer to assist where you can (i.e., water boys, parking, admissions, emptying trash receptacles, etc.). By volunteering you will meet people that are more in the know than yourselves. Also talk to dancers that have nice clothes, some will be glad to talk to you while others may not want to talk or have time so respect that. Some may not feel qualified to talk on the subject but may suggest another, in this case ask if they would please introduce you. Also do not take one persons or one tribes view as the be all end all on a subject. Every tribe as different traditions and beliefs. Some outfits are not from some tribes and so they may not have all the why's and why not's about it. Above all only go where you are welcome. Some events are tribal specific or are closed to those not on tribal rolls. You can call a dances POC and ask if all are welcome to dance.

    Most of all remember that natives are people, nothing more nothing less. If you treat them with the same respect and courtesy you would expect yourself then you are far less likely to offend anyone.

    Oh by the way, welcome to the board.

    "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.


    • #3
      PWB49 said it as best as I think anyone could with an unbiased, helpful mind and heart. At the age of 23, I am no Veteran. Yet, I've had some people to tell me that I am a "hell-of-a straight dancer". The styles and dance, all in itself, varies from region to region and tribe to tribe.

      Before I go, just remember, even when you do treat us as a whole w/ respect and courtesy you will run into those w/ a negative attitude. There is always at least one bad apple in a bunch. The larger the group, the larger the number of bad apples possible. If the first apple is a bad one, do not let that discourage you. If the entire bunch are bad, :devil C Y A :devil


      • #4
        I agree that you don't have to be a Vet. to dance as a straight dancer. I am now a Ret. Vet. but haven't always been. I've always been a straight dancer, as my father, and my sons. I too have some scouts that are wanting some info. about our ways which I am more than willing to share with them. The first thing I told them is that we are not what you have seen on TV.

        You should go to some Dances in OK for example if at all possible, not that dancers else wheres is not good but OK straights are probably the most critical. Video tapes are also a good thing to invest in. Not all of us are too starch to give some of our knowledge. Remember as was already said, Not all of our peoples have the same traditions. I know that not all other cultures necessarily have an Ilonshka. The Ilonshkas would be a great place to go and observe, nearly all Straight dancers.

        Learn the etiquette of how and when, and where to enter a dance circle. Learn when it is OK to participate. These are just rambling IDEAS but if you would like more help just write a PM.

        Learn to Stomp dance!!!!!!!


        • #5
          "Straight Dancers are only for Veteran's" puhleeeeez! Give me a break.

          I say put em on if your Native. The first poster gave you some very good advice.

          It never seems to amaze me where people come up with some of this stuff. Whoever said that should come to Oklahoma and get a reality check.


          • #6
            Dang if ya gotta be a vet to straight dance am I ever doing the wrong thing!!!! LOL I remember an uncle joking around one afternoon (this of course after telling him that I didn't want to fancy) that everyone eventually becomes a straight dancer...simply because they get to old to do whatever it was they were doing before!!! LOL Cherosage and the others are exactly right with their advice about how to go about it. Whatever you do don't jump in to it thats going to be the easiest way to make a mistake and offend a lot of people. Keep in mind that the Boy Scouts of America already have a bad reputation with a lot of the native american community, and some out there will react badly when you begin to ask questions of them about their regalia or the dance style. Don't let them discourage you from seeking the knowledge your looking for. Volunteering at different pow wows is an excellent idea, most pow wow commitees are steady looking for help to get things set up, and to help out during the event. For there you will deffinately meet a lot of different people that know what you need to know. Would be happy to share some information on the subject...just send me a PM!!!! Welcome to the board!!!
            We the unwilling, lead by the unknowing, have been doing so much with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.


            • #7
              I want to thank everyone for sharing their knowledge and counsel with me. I am aware of the rep the Boy Scouts have. However in recient years they have made progress. In the Order of the Arrorw we are not allowed to perform any dance of a reglious nature or use birds of prey on the clothing.

              My family was involved in working with a Pow Wow in eastern ohio. However the individual that was letting us use his facility lost it due to finical problems. That was two years ago.

              My family heritage is Delaware we think. There is a lot of surcomestanial evidence on both my Mother and Father family.
              It is far back in the linage and difficult in not impossible to prove.

              As far as Pow Wow's are concerened our family has attented the Morivain Town Pow Wow, Ont. For a number of years. Last year we took several of the young men and they had a good time. This year we are going again. In the next two months there are several Pow Wow's in the area and we plan to attend. When we go I am going to ask the committee if we can help them with any job they might need done.

              The reason I raised this question was I was unable to get in contact with my Canadaian friends and wanted to help my young man start on his clothing.

              I want to again thank all of you for your kind words.


              • #8
                Straight dancers from Ontario? I'm a bit confused.


                • #9
                  I could be wrong, but I think the people you may have seen in Ontario are visitors from Oklahoma.


                  • #10
                    There are 4 bands of Delaware. 2 in Ok. and 2 in Ont. The two reserves in Ont are Morivian Town and Delware on the Thames. The two reserves are about 70 miles apart. Morivian Town as its name implies were Delware people who followed the Morivian religion. And moved north from Ohio when events forced the move. Morivian Town is about 150 miles East of Detroit. The closest town you would find on the map is Tamesville, Ont. The four bands annually gather together at one of the four locations.
                    The two in the OK and the two in Canada are both recognized by their federal governments.


                    • #11
                      Good Luck to you in getting your dancers started. I hope that a native person in your area will take an interest in you and help you out. The style known today as straight dance is Osage in origin, but the Comanches have a slightly different regalia in that same style. It was taught to me that their regalia differ from the northern traditional because of their confinement by the dominant culture and the attempt by them to force assimilation by taking away eagle feathers, etc... so broadcloth and ribbonwork replaced buckskin and quill or beadwork. Straight dance is a traditional dance, only its the tradition of certain tribes. Your scouts may enjoy researching the original regalia of different tribes and using that to inspire their contemporary regalia. The scouts have been involved in this since the late fifties and early sixties. We have pictures of their participation in the Annual Winnebago Pow Wow from around that time.


                      • #12
                        Yes the Order of the Arrow is a good way to get introduced to the culture, but once you learn about straight dance-get out of the OA. As an organization it has and continues to objectify native people. Do not confuse or identify straight dance and straight dance organizations with the concept of OA and it's "cheerful service". I am not indian and joined a heluska organation made up of almost all non indians and OA types. They b!tch like hell while putting their clothes on and after the dance get sh!t-faced drunk like they are at a college frat party. This lack of respect has turned me off of the group. When I dance, my heart is in that circle- it is where I feel like the person I was meant to be. I think the Poncas made a big mistake in giving the dance to these people, they have imposed all their middle class and boy scout values on it. If this offends anyone so be it, I appologize for the offense, but if the shoe fits...


                        • #13
                          Hmm, I've been to all the non-indian Hethuskas several times. I don't ever recall people complaining about putting on there clothes. I also don't recall anyone I have seen getting drunk. Granted I have see members of the groups drink in a social manner, but not to the point of losing control of themselves (both whites and Indians together). These aren't the only Hehuskas where after the dance people get together and visit and share a few drinks. So please enlighted us, who's shoes do you speak of?
                          Tha-ke'-tha-pi Wa-kon-ta


                          • #14
                            One of the things I've been impressed about with the members of the non-Indian Hethushkas is at pow-wows they seem to be some of the first guys dressed and the last to leave. I can think of two men who are almost 70 years old that are always dressed and dance the whole session. I hope the guys you were talking about are the exception rather than the rule. Maybe they were joking or just having a bad day.



                            • #15
                              Straight to the point!

                              Straight dance of Osage origin? PLEASE! If anyone knows the true history around the Straight dance it comes from the Pawnees! Then the Ohmahas, Poncas, Osages, and there on! I used to here stories of how the Pawnees had to sing for the Osage Elonshska! We Comanches got it from the Kiowas who got it from the Wichitas(relatives to the Pawnees) Delawares probably picked it up after they moved to Oklahoma. I will admit though if anyone wants to see Straight dancing at its best then come to Oklahoma! Be sure and check out the Pawnee, Ponca, Osage and Otoe dances! Nothing but Straight dancers, sometimes hundreds!


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