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Navajo Straight Dancer?

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  • Navajo Straight Dancer?

    Hey all you straight dancers, I have a question for you... I started a dance troupe at my college this year. One of the guys is Navajo, and he wants to be a straight dancer. However, his tribe obviously never traditionally powwowed at all. I'm asking on behalf of him...

    Can he straight dance? What designs would be appropriate to use- Navajo ones? None of his family have ever powwowed, so he has no one to ask about this. Actually, he had never been to a powwow until the one my school put on last year. Instead he does Navajo ceremonies.

    So do Navajos straight dance and if so, how do you all dress? I'm sure one of you guys must be Navajo and can help us out w/ some suggestions! Thanks!!

  • #2
    Thanks for your great answer SDinAZ!! I thought it would be kind of weird mixing Navajo designs in.

    I have a few more questions. Did an Osage bring you out into the arena? Or did you pick that style of clothes? Did you follow any sort of protocol starting to dance as a Navajo?

    I think that for the dance troupe we'll dress Sean in Lenape clothes since that is my tribe and we are paying my mom to make all the outfits for everyone. There aren't any other OK Indians at school here (that should change! Maybe I can recruit on or something) so I guess he'll get Lenape ribbonwork.


    • #3
      Wow! If you dress "predominantly Osage" and then make a statement about how you don't put much emphasis on the clothes,then you better go back and turn those Osage clothes in for another tribe. Osages are very strict about their tribal clothes, especially the straight dance. That's practically a religion in Oklahoma. I really think that you need to rethink your statement and re read it in reference to the Osage tribe and their dance.
      You don't just pick up a style or someone's tribal clothes and put it on and go with it. Not straight dance, especially. If you think Navajos don't care about the way they dress, etc.etc., then you need to dress navajo. Not Osage. Even comanches, and I know comanches, are strict in their dress according to their bands and colors. You don't mix the two.


      • #4

        Don't be too harsh, now. LOL Here are my two cents:
        I come from the tribe and the family of straight dance. My nephew was brought into the arena at Pawhuska, being a member of the Red Eagle family. The respect the Osage tribe bestows upon the history and the lineage of the straight dance is very traditional and very respectful.
        So, just bear that in mind if you are going to wear "predominantly Osage regalia". If you are Comanche, then dress Comanche according to the family that dressed you. But never the two shall join, LOL.
        I have Navajo friends and they are very proud of their tribal dress. They have thier own clans, etc. So, they aren't just totally "non traditional" in their clothes, dances, etc. The only thing is.....I don't see too many people picking up their style of clothes, or dancing their tribal dances, and making money at it.
        Whereas, it is the other way around.
        If you have been given the right to dance straight dance, and you dress Osage, then you should be able to go to any of the arbors and be welcomed into that sacred arena. They will know you by the designs you wear, what district (or arbor) you are from, and you will have a seat in their arena. Same with the Ponca Heluska.
        Now, I understand that not everyone has been brought into this style of dance in this manner. But if you are going to wear their clothes, then evidently you received them from that district.
        If not, then please don't encourage anyone else to follow your example. Just a my "old school" observations. May be outdated, but that's how I was raised. My dad danced straight dance for over 20 years at Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe. My nephew is Osage. We, in our area, have a great deal of respect for the Osage people.


        • #5
          My husband's mom has made some straight dance clothes for some friends of her's that are Pawnee. She sewed some sequin Navajo (she being Navajo herself)designs on them. Personally they don't look good. For one thing the child is not Navajo but Pawnee.Then, the legins are sewn wrong and the aprons are to wide. Ive seen Les Hand, Ralphy Hammond and Steve Campos. These men are all Pawnee. They all have some beautiful dances clothes. Some of there shirts might be flashey, but they all have some deadly ribbon work. Maybe your friend should attend some pw's in Ok, before he gets into this. They take this dance very serious down there. Wearing the wrong thing could get him in a heap of trouble.


          • #6

            Definately not trying to pick a fight or anything here, but I get the sense that Goose and rwgirl are kinda misunderstanding SDinAZ....

            When he says "predominately Osage clothes" I think he means that 9 out of 10 times when he dances, he wears his Osage stuff..... not like Osage leggins w/ Kiowa shoes or something..... I know he was working on some other Northeast/North central Okla style clothes (with abstract floral beadwork), which may be the other part of that misunderstood "predomninantly" thing.....

            As for the issue of Navajos not getting bent outta shape about clothes, I think SDinAZ had a typo in there..... "wearing out clothes" might really be "wearing OUR clothes".... Which if read that way, is true, Navajos don't get bent outta shape about other folks wearing their stuff..... In part cause not too many people do (haha - I'm sure there's a joke to be made there somewhere!), and in part cause alot of tradish Navajos recognize that many "tradish" Navajo clothes really came from other folks, especially the Pueblos.....

            Whether you buy my thinking above, this much is for sure.... I know SDinAZ personally, and what he said about being respectful regarding other tribes' clothes is the truth and he backs it up with action. He has permission to wear the stuff he wears, and like was suggested by Goose, I know SDinAZ could sit in at several of the Heluska/Eloska/Man Dance societies and people would know him and have no problem with his presence.
            Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.


            • #7
              Well first of all in defence of Straightdancerinaz, I know him and he has nothing but respect for his clothes, and the straight dance tradition, he is welcomed any were in Oklahoma.

              Eap7 I think it is good that your mom is making a suit with Delaware stlye ribbons. Because if you look back at the old ribbons, the patterns are maniley based off delaware work. If people really look back you will see what I mean. Also make sure this young man watches good straight dancers at pow-wows and video too. Take him to Oklahoma too so he will see and understand what straight dancing is all about.......
              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


              • #8
                Navajo Straight Dancer

                I do the Southern Straight Dance when I go to powwows, and I am Navajo. I have leather moccasins, leggings, and aprons, but Navy blue flowered cotton shirt. I have a choker and medicine bag made with pipe bones. Then I have beaded arm bands, front bands, plus a tail of otter skin and bead work. I wear a beaded belt, and a handkerchief. Plus, I have a roach, dance staff, and feathered fan. I make my roach sit toward the back of my head, but I have no headband. I started doing the regular heel-toe steps but later tried out the gliding steps, which is much easier. I still do the heel-toe for intertribals, because it gets crowded in there some times. Straight dance gliding and zigzagging takes up a lot of room. The best way to start your straight dancers is to buy a video, showing straight dancers and to go to powwows and see how other straight dancers have their outfits and how they dance. There are several styles of straight dancing that I noticed. Good luck.


                • #9
                  eap7: thank you for your interest and asking your (?).

                  I too, am a Straight dancer as the rest of my family. I think I understood the comment about the Osage style straight outfit. I mostly dance in the NE part of OK and in MO. I undertood the Osage style to mean not Delaware, Shawnee, Commanche, or Kiowa, etc.. I think the young man ment no harm nor "DISRESPECT".

                  I do believe that if the young Dene man wants to dance our Straight dance ways he would do well with the 'Lenape clothes. My (?) would first be this. Are you sure he wants to dance our ways? Secondly, What is his rathers? Wouldn't things be easier for all if he were to attend some powwows and watch the many different dancers and dance styles? Is this what he wants our did you just pick this for him? (not trying to stir nor pick a fight). He would be welcome, I'm sure, if he wants and behaves appropriately. If this is the right thing for him then your family should help him correctly and sponsor him right.
                  Good Luck.


                  • #10
                    Hi Cherosage, thanks for your reply. Well he picked the straight dance style himself. All of the members of the dance troupe chose their own styles which is why we have a disproprotionate number of female fancy dancers, 2 jingle dress dancers and no n/s traditional dancers among the girls!


                    • #11

                      Is it safe to say that I misunderstood that the young navajo man from arizona, whose post I commented on, has been brought into the arena here in Oklahoma, dressed by the Osages, or the Comanches, therefore obtaining the rights to this dance by being brought in and given the dance? There was a feed, his clothes were given, the whole shabang?
                      If not, then I don't agree with letting someone dress straight dance just because they like it, or saw it on a video, or a book or by any other avenue than through the originators of this dance.
                      This issue is addressed so many times on this forum, yet no one seems to realize the depth or the importance of the procedures required. There are reasons these steps are followed and its not because you mean no disrespect, but just because this is a very traditional dance with very specific traditions that go with it.
                      It's not about "leaving anyone out or trying to exclude any certain tribe", but including them into this society, by this society, in front of those whom this dance was made for. It is a warrior society, there are songs that go with someone coming into the arena for the first time in this regalia. There are introductions to the drum, to the society to the people. If these tribes require it of their very own tribal members, do you think it might offend them to just "do it" because you like it.
                      My gosh, am I the only one who still believes in our old ways. Has commercial pow wow opened the door to "do whatever you want to, just show a little respect"? Maybe I sound mean, but I have seen how this is done and know the blessings that come from it. I have seen 200 straight dancers in one arena, heard the songs, the camp crier, the feeds, the massive gift giving.....the value of what this dance is worth to someone who wants to dance it, and the value put within this dance by the straight dance society.


                      • #12
                        rwgirl: you are correct about our society and the historic significance of our rites. Our Ilonshkas are some of my greatest memories just being able to (honored to) dance with so very many great dancers. The dinners are very important, as well the camp crier along with the massive give-aways. I'm not sure but thought that I unserstood the young Navaho was sponsored by his In-Laws.

                        I also encouraged eap7 to do what is right and sponsor her Navaho friend in the mannor respectable of the Delawares of OK. I would like to think that these things should always be done. The same with properly roaching him, which could be part of the same ceremonials. It sounds to me that if eap7's Mom is making his suit they may dress him properly.

                        I too would hope that our old ways (rites) would never end. The problem I see with our customs continuing is enter-Tribal and out side marriages. This is an age old (?). I would like our sons to sometime attend some Apache ceremonies, but we are not able to attend these things. (My wife is Apache). Fortunately she has fully gone along with our sons being rasied in my Tribals ways.

                        Just food for thought, Wa-Do.


                        • #13
                          Just do things right and keep on dancing. Dance for the right reason and your family!!!!


                          • #14
                            Ahaw, mii sa gegit sa go gidebwe!

                            I think you hit the nail on the head Sage. Well put.:)
                            Mii iw keyaa ezhi-ditibiseyaan


                            • #15


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