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Trot Dance

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  • Historian
    Trot Dance Songs

    I can't speak of Trot Dance Songs from other tribes, but according to a conversation I had with Ponca Headsinger Harry Buffalohead in 1985, the Trot Songs should not be confused with Horse Stealing Songs, as they are very different. The Ponca Trot Songs are word songs said to have been composed in honor of Ponca warriors wounded in battle and often refer to the bravery of the warrior and his companions who helped him return home. There is one still being sung that talks about a Ponca warrior named Little Elk.

    It is also said that in the Buffalo days, these Trot Songs were sung by warriors returning from battle, while mounted on horseback, as they returned to their encampment. The horses were said to be arranged side by side and "pranced" in a line into camp as the warriors sang the songs of warriors who had been wounded. The style of dance is said to immitate the "prancing" or "trotting" of the horses as they entered camp.

    Immediately following the Trot Songs in a Ponca Hethuska dance ceremony are a group of songs called "Nahstopee" Songs. These Nahstopee Songs, slower in tempo, are all vocable songs contrasting with the Trot Songs which are all word songs. "Nahstopee", the Ponca word for "tip-toe" or "to walk softly", refers to the action of Ponca warriors approaching an enemy or enemy encampment, and being as silent as possible. The dance movements are said to immitate the very soft "tip-toe" steps of the silent warrior.

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  • BeadMan
    My understanding of trot songs.
    The Hethuska dance, or ceremony, follows the logical procession of a battle. Starts with the calling and gathering of the men, various fights take place, victory, comming home, and remembering those lost. This explains why the beat gets faster as the dance goes on and finally comes to roll-the-drum or ruffle songs (victory). None of the translations I have for trot songs talk about horses, so I don't believe there is any connection to Kiowa horse stealing songs, they just happen to have a similar beat. The trot songs of the Hethuska (again as I understand it) are the wounded coming home and the step imitates a limp. The translations of the songs somewhat show this.
    Most of the older men I have seen at these dances seem to have a limp-like step when dancing trot songs. Then again, they are old and maybe all of their steps look like that?

    I'm not a scholar of Hethuska ways, this is just information I have picked up and offer it here for discussion.
    Last edited by BeadMan; 12-28-2003, 09:44 PM.

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    I know these songs as horse(pony) stealing songs. They are Ilonshka/Hethuska songs as far as I know. I know the Kiowas also have these songs. I'm not sure of the appropriateness of using these songs in contest, but if they are sung I will dance to them. I like these songs myself. They aren't like the crow hop or some other Tradish type songs although those not knowing may try to associate them together. I have heard some funny looking people talk to others as if our songs are the same as the crow hop. I'm not a singer nor a Drum Keeper so I'm not the one to be the expert on these songs. Perhaps a Drum Keeper can help us out here if you all would, please.

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  • travelingmocs
    I think the songs talk about horses and getting them. Like the kiowas have horse stealing songs. It could be linked with buffalo songs I would think since plans indians had songs for everything. I will check with a few people, but it might be a few days.

    Thease songs are part of the Hethuska but are used out side of that warrior circle all the time, to me if you know those songs then you really know your stuff. I danced in a contest and the final song was a kiowa horse stealing song. The poncas have tip toe songs too, heard theam sung once at the White Bear war dance in Chicago. The difference is the tip toe songs had no language in them. Maybe some of the Poncas here on the board will chime in and correct me if I am wrong....

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  • Str8Dancer49
    Best thing is to go check out the pros at White Eagle, Hominy, Greyhorse, or Pawhuska......

    I was taught that it's a "trot" step, not a "stomp" or that buffalo dance kinda step. Like you're not supposed to drag the second foot on the ground.....

    This brings up another good debate - a friend of mine suggested that trot songs aren't really appropriate for contests cause they're a ceremonial song from Hethushka. But couldn't the same be said for the "stop" or so-called "trick" songs? Some really knowledgeable singers seem to have no problem singing those for contests, so I have no problem with it either. And if it's OK to sing stop songs and trot songs, why not go ahead and make straight dancers contest to shake songs too? That would really separate the folks who know something about what straight dancing really is and the songs used in Hethushka from those who just picked it up as a style but don't know the history and purpose.

    Whatever song you give me, I'll be cuttin up......

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  • Fat Albert
    started a topic Trot Dance

    Trot Dance

    Here is a question for anyone who wants to chew on it... How does a person correctly dance the trot songs? Why are these songs done the way they are? Are there tribal differences? Have a good one and enjoy the holidays!

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  • Fat Albert
    Trot Dance Songs
    by Fat Albert
    Here is a question for anyone who wants to chew on it... How does a person correctly dance the trot songs? Why are these songs done the way they are? Are there tribal differences? Have a good one and enjoy the holidays!
    12-22-2003, 05:23 PM
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