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Why is it called "Straight" dancing

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  • Why is it called "Straight" dancing


    There is a contest catagory called Men's Southern Straight Dance.

    The tribes that ceremonially do this dance have their own names for it.

    Why do they call it straight if dancers dance in a zig-zag pattern "around" the drum and some straight dancers dance in a leaning position?

    It is also called the gentlemens dance? (I won't discuss any of their 'afterhour' behavior).

    So WHY do we call it the Southern Straight Dance instead of the "Men's Southern Traditional Dancing?"

    Wouldn't that make more sense?

    Any "straight dancers" out there????????
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    A few of us, but we are a quiet bunch


    • #3
      If a gay fellow danced this style, would he be a "straight" dancer?


      • #4
        Kiwehnzii: You think they would be a bent or limp dancer?

        Whome: I think this may have more to do with the fact that we don't wear feathered bustles. Sometimes we have been called Southern Tradish's. This would be a miss nomer due to the fact that Southern Tradish's are Traditional dancers that have a southern flare. I'm not sure of all the things that qualifies for this term but they wear bustles as do the Northern Tradish's.

        Just my guess.

        We are a very quiet group of gentlemen. Most of us do have our societies, as you mentioned, for our particular Tribes. This is true whether it be Ilonshka's or Hethushka's, Black leggins, etc.


        • #5
          whome: when the indins first learned the white mans language the only way to describe the differences in dance styles was to call the guys without bustles> "straight dancers". too confusing? as far as being called gentlemens dance? I dont know about you guys, but when I dance I am in "the hunt" and "going for the kill".

          khnezii: you dance like a girl!


          • #6
            It is also called the gentlemens dance? (I won't discuss any of their 'afterhour' behavior).
            Dang, sounds like somebody got their heart broke by a straight dancer..... maybe Kiwehnzii's a psychic! just joking...

            I've actually heard a few folks from up north call traditional dancers w/ bustles "straight" dancers to differentiate them from fancy dancers.... and Cherosage is right - the southern version of Northern Tradish is different from the way they dance it in the Dakotas - soldier hats, shoulder fans, double layer super-extended satellite dish bustles are things you don't generally see on Lakota guys like Terry Fiddler....

            The late Abe Conklin said the name "Straight" started at one of the Tulsa powwows in the 1950s as a way to distinguish between this style and the Fancy dancers for the contests.... and because in those days no one wanted to sing trot dance or charging/shake/ruffle songs for straight dancers outside of the Helushka ceremonies, especially not in a contest, they just danced to straight songs, while the fancy dancers had trick songs and really fast songs.

            Some folks, especially here in NM and other places outside OK, do call it "Southern Traditional" and they often put us in the same contest as the northern guys. That kinda sucks, cause the dances and songs are really different - kinda like putting jingle and fancy shawl together - they're just not the same.
            Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.


            • #7
              Quiet, Gay, Bent or Limp,

              It is still called "Straight."

              You all seem to want to compare it to something else particularly -the traditional northern men's dance.

              Well, the Ponca did bring the bustle down when they were removed from Nebraska and it was used in their Helushka.

              If they wore a ceremonial bustle like their grandfathers, would they have to dance in the N. men's catagory?

              Also the current leader (nu-DAH-honga) of the Ponca Helushka is a traditional dancer.
              Last edited by WhoMe; 07-14-2003, 09:50 AM.
              Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


              • #8
                whome--fyi--whenever the current NudaHonga of the Ponca dances at his or any other Heluska, he wears his Straight Clothes. His father always wore Straight Clothes where ever he danced. It is true that the Old Heluska did wear crow belts as part of their society regalia, when the new Heluska was reorganized the new order of dress was the modern straight clothes, which evolved from the clothes that the tail dancers used to wear in the Old Heluska. Nowadays, there are still a few old timers that continue to wear the single bustle, but they are few and far between. The Kiowas got their Oh-Ho-Ma Lodge dance from the same source although through a round about way and were given a crow belt when they were given the dance, but their rules say that no one wears a bustle during their dance. I guess the point of all this is that there is no simple answer to your queries. Each tribe that has these ways has their own history and have tribalized it and made it their own. Hope this clarifies it a little bit.


                • #9
                  Paravio, What do you mean in a around about way with the Kiowa Oh-Ho-Ma lodge. I thouhgt they were given the dance by the Cheyennes in like the 1880's or 90's.....

                  I have seen pictures of the first Oh-Ho-Ma leaders wearing the clothes given to them by the Cheyennes. Not trying to cause conflict just asking questions....
                  If I do not know the answer someone else will!!!!
                  Also forgive me, this system does not have a spell check so forgive the bad spelling


                  • #10
                    I just want to add a few things here. I pray that my elders and some of the Ponca elders will forgive me for speaking these things. I would like for one of these Elders to help if they will.

                    I was told that the Heluska may have been given the Poncas and the Osages by the O Ma Ha(Omaha's) peoples. I do know that these O Ma Ha people still have their Heluska and I was told that some still wear their Bustles.

                    I have only seen Guest dancers at the Ilonshkas I've danced, with a bustle. I know that some of the other straights in our dances might dance other than straight at Powwows. I have been priviledged to dance, while in Lawton,OK, with Comanches and Apaches and Kiowas. I have danced with Apaches in their Formal Dance( as a Heluska) given them by the Ponca.

                    I have used up all this space to say, Just because someone dances a certain style in Powwows they don't in our Ilonshka/ Heluska. We usually only dance Straight in these dances.


                    • #11
                      Straight Dancing

                      It's called the gentleman's dance because of the grace and poise you have during the dance. It's called the straight dance because the person dancing isn't and never really goes down into a crouched position or hunched posistion as in many other men's dances. The dance was created during a time when our dances and drums were outlawed. They thought that if they could break our spirit they could break us. They might have been right, but one oversight, you can't break the native spirit! We developed the straight dance, where we would dress in nice clothes very neat, like an "indian gentleman", the dance itself was refined, more of a strut than a "dance". We weren't allowed to have feathers at that time, so we created the straight dance. It told of hunts and wars, just like the "Traditional" type of dancing we were known for, but had an added meaning, one that still shouts out today when I dance straight or see a straight dancer.

                      The message is simple "We don't need no feathers to dance and you can not break our spirits!!!"
                      Towodi Senvoi
                      The hawk that flies the night skies.


                      • #12

                        That's, well, um . . . creative?



                        • #13

                          Yup, I agree. It sounds kinda new agey to me.

                          "Indians weren't allowed to have feathers then so (WE) created the straight dance." Hmmmmm. That's a new one.


                          Yes, the current Nu Dah Honga does wear straight dance clothes at the Helushka. But he's back to tradish at the powwows.


                          Guest dancers do wear their traditional outfits to the men's dances. How come the Omaha's don't join them with their crow bustles. Hollis Stabler Jr. lives in OK now and dances with the crow bustle.

                          And yes several people are right. The Kiowa did receive the crow bustle for their O-ho-mah from the Cheyennes - in a round about way. ie. not directly from the Um-mah-ho's.

                          Still does ANYONE know why they call it STRAIGHT DANCING at powwows?
                          Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


                          • #14
                            Cherosage----In response to you statement that the Ponca and Osage got the dance from the Omaha, I can only say what I have heard and witnessed and read. It is my understanding that back in the pre-reservation days the Omaha and Ponca were often called by the same name. The Ponca were called the Omaha and the Omaha were called the little Omaha. I was told that the correct name for the Ponca was Umaha PaHonga, which loosely translates to Big Omaha to differentiate them from the little Omaha. Since then, the name, Pahonga, has been shortened to Ponca. The Omaha and Ponca are closely related and I know of some members of the same family that are registered in both tribes, although they are first cousins. It is for this reason I am always a bit skeptical when I hear people say that they recieved this item, dance, or thing from Omaha or Ponca a long time ago, because the historical record is blurred between the two people. Historically they may said that they received it from the Omaha, but back then, which one was it, since they both used the same basic name. Hope this doesn't muddy up the water too much. I am not saying that the oral traditions are incorrect, but we may be translating what we hear with our modern knowledge and not what was meant when it was first told.
                            A couple of years ago a friend said he found a reference in a book about Lakota music. In a small section of the book, there was a passage from a calvary officer's diary talking about the Lakota people being visited by Omaha people and giving them a new dance. The date of the diary was the late 1860's. He described the clothes they recieved with the dance and even transcribed the words to the songs they were given and wrote down the notes. Guess what. It was Heluska songs! Have a good day.


                            • #15
                              Now about the translation about what Ponca means. I saw some where in Ponca city in a Museum or someplace that Ponca means Honered Head. Now I am not totally sure about that. So can someone shed some light on that...
                              Last edited by travelingmocs; 07-16-2003, 07:12 PM.
                              If I do not know the answer someone else will!!!!
                              Also forgive me, this system does not have a spell check so forgive the bad spelling


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