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  • History of Visors

    This is another seemingly new outfit item that is occassionally worn by traditional dancers. Like the epaulets, this item seemed to become very popular in the late 80s and early 90s...I didn't see too many at Denver March this year, and you won't see many in South Dakota. Just wondering if this item has a history prior to this time period...it seems that it might have grown out of the practice of wearing "scalp feather" on the side of the roach, but that's just a guess/observation. Any info?

  • #2
    I've seen quite a few of them at powwows in MIssouri, Illinois and Oklahoma.

    Thanks for bringing up the subject - have wondered, too, from whence they came.

    Have often wondered, under a blazing sun, why they couldn't be incorporated into the jingle dress outfit!!

    Just kidding, of course.....

    Respectfully,
    Lee

    ------------------
    People keep telling me to act my age. How old am I, again?
    "As long as dancing is cultivated, civilization progresses; but no sooner is the interdict set forth against it, than the people who were once refined by its inspiration, relapse into barbarism."
    - Thomas Hilgrove, 1856

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    • #3
      the visor is not a new outfit,in the book
      "indian dances"by Reginald Laubin,there is a picture of 2 old timers:Iron Mocassin and Kills Ennemy and they are both wearing one.
      the only new thing about it may be the size of some of the "modern"ones
      the picture was taken around 1950 i think
      Hate is for FOOLS!And fools like m&ms come in all colors

      I am ready to tell you my secret now,I see dumb people,.I see them everywhere.They dont know they're dumb,they only see what they want to see.That weird feeling which make the hair on your neck stand up....thats them!

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      • #4
        The original purpose of the visor was to stop "people to look directly in the eyes of the dancer.Other dancers prefered round "visors"made out of deer hair.
        Hate is for FOOLS!And fools like m&ms come in all colors

        I am ready to tell you my secret now,I see dumb people,.I see them everywhere.They dont know they're dumb,they only see what they want to see.That weird feeling which make the hair on your neck stand up....thats them!

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        • #5
          I agree! I was always under the impression that it originated as a way to keep folks from lookin into your eyes. I see alot of Canadian folks around in the area and they always have loops of beads covering there eyes and the rosettes of hair on the headbands. I recall hearin one time that the feather visors wear more droopy back then and did a better job of covering the eyes better. Up here in the Longhouse ceremonies its always been that way. The dancers always have there eyes covered with there haeddress or Handkerchifs.
          Anyhow thats my two cents on that one.
          Take care.
          Rich

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          • #6
            That's the primary reason why I wear a visor, so no-one looks into my pretty eyes, ...no, it's also good to wear one during day dances, so the sun won't burn my face too.....also I look cool in one... .... just having a good time so no negative responses to my post please....
            BlueWolf
            Life is short, so Powwow Hard!

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            • #7
              Since we're on the topic of visors, can anyone goive me info on how to wear tem under a roach?
              Much appreciated

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              • #8
                I used to wear a thunderbird society headdress which included the tail feathers of a raven which were used as a visor.

                It was used in this manner for ceremonial society dances of the Thunderbird society I am born into.

                It also shielded our faces , but more imporatntly the style of visor and headdressa long with the number of feathers signified your rank or apprenticeship or doctoring ability in the society.

                Kahkakew

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                • #9
                  kahkakew,

                  What people do you come from, just curious because the whole story i heard was that they originated in Canada, your story would definitely bring some light to this...thanks

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                  Robert Laughing Owl
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                  • #10
                    Tansi!

                    My families originate from the Dakotas and present day Manitoba. I know that on my mothers side, my GGG grandparents were Lakota, Saulteaux and Cree. One family, the Larocques registered into Treaty 1 in the Roseau River reserve on the Manitoba, Minnesota border in the mid 1800's.
                    The other side is the Lightning (Waskochepayies) family. They are Cree, Saulteaux and Lakota. They signed into treaty 1 into the St. Peters reserve(now extinguished) in the mid 1800's.

                    We are predominantly Cree on both sides, with an equal mixture of Lakota and Saulteaux(Ojibwe). My GGG Larocque and Lightning were wed in the old way and moved to present day Alberta in the late 1800's where they signed into Treaty 6 into the Bobtail band, what is known today as the 4 bands of Hobbema, Alberta. In 1903, my G grandfather left reserve becuase of the indian agent and its racist, oppressive polices and moved his family along with 5 other families to the Buffalo Lake region in North eastern Alberta.
                    We are nown still ot this day as a breakaway group.
                    We have remained there since and in 1939 our land was granted reserve status. That was also the same period when the province of Alberta designated 14 Metis colonies for non-status and meits. One stil,e xists to this day and it has stolen our name of Buffalo Lake. Our land is surrounded by this colony, needless to say our interaction throughout the years hads been less than positive. Although we are registered with the Louis Bull Cree Nation in Hobbema, we operate as an independent first nation on our private land of just over 2000+ acres.

                    Along with the rich history comes along history and reputation of medicine and spiritual people in my families. I have been very fortunate to have been raised by and taught by many of them.

                    On my fathers side, again we are predominanatly Cree but there is Dakota ancestry as well. My late father was an extremely well known and respected medicine person and spirtiualist. His grand parents signed treaty in Onion Lake reserve, treaty 6(Seekaskootch reserve) saskatchewan back in the early 1800's. My father was born and raised in the Frog Lake reserve just across the border from Onion Lake reserve, also treaty 6.

                    My fathers side also is well known and respected. Concerning visors, I was told they signified status in the society you were born or adopted into and that they relayed rank and ability dependent on the style and number and alteration of feathers.

                    My late father told me of the many different styles a feather was made into to signify a victory or name or rank within a tribe or as a medicine perosn. They also signified life experiences around mourning a death or accomplishments.
                    For myself when I wore the Thunderbird society headdress, the visor signified mainly the level of teaching and rank or ability I have attained through elders direction, teachings and ceremoinal knowledge nd experiences. For the person who does not know what to look for, they see a visor with feathers much like another visor. Todays contemporary regalias have gotten way out of control. I wore the headdress as a declaration of the society I am born into and also until I recieved an eagle to make a new bustle and then return to a porcupine roach head dress. I was also directed to wear the old style headdress, but I will not say anymore on that.

                    As far as if it came from up here, I am uncertain as I have seen these visors alot growing up in more ceremonial settings, but in the past dozen years they are mostly seen in contemporary pow-wow settings. The Blood Indian I met who recognized the significance of my society headdress told myself that essentially it was the same in the Blackfoot confederacies societies, with a few differences.

                    That is basically some of my bloodlines. My relations in Roseau river are looking into finding the Indian names of the grand parents who originated fon the dakotas and Manitoba region. The name Larocque was recieved in Indian residential school, where mass baptisms were the norm. The surname Larocque was given under duress to my GGG grandfather who unfortunately was baptized andnamed after the Bishop, Larocque, and named Vital after the Priest in charge of the mission they were enduring. Hence he went into Indian school with an Indian name and left known as Vital Larocque, Roseau River band member #6.
                    Once I learn of either original Indian name, I will change my surname to the appropriate Indian Surname. Kahkakew (Raven) is my true birth name and I was named in honor of a well known and beloved medicine man from Makwa Sahkahikan(Loon Lake reserve) near Onion Lake reserve, Saskatchewan.
                    Kahkakew was a dear friend of our family who doctored many of our relatives and was one of Waposakospiyesis' teachers as well as mine when I was very young.

                    I will ask my great uncle and my relatives more about the origin of visors and see what more I can learn. Nanskamon for the inquiry.

                    Kahkakew

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                    • #11
                      wow...thanks man....thats just what i heard too that the visors and epulets had originated in canada among the cree...although i did not know how they originated this definitely sheds some light on it. Looks like just how most thigs originate in comtemp traditional...coming from a religious overtone or idea that evolves into a prctice....cool thanks for the input, atleast now i know the guy that told me that was right...he wasnt sure either..thanks

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                      Robert Laughing Owl
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                      • #12
                        With some dancers you see huge visors, they resemble small satellite dishes. TRhey can be seen in a variety of feathers, with all sorts of trim, colors, hair, etc.

                        Others have their visor so far back on their head, it appears their roach is falling off. When you combine this with all the shoulcer feathers and hairs tiers and other assorted fethers hanging from roaches, plumes, etc, some of these guys look more like a store front eagle than a person. I wera my regalia in thenld dstyle, not overly fancy, but more traditional, this includes the visor.
                        Now one sees very young boys with phenomenal visors, bustles, fanms, etc. Where thye earned or received them is often a mystery, but they have incredible regalias. More often than notthis type of regalia takes the emphasis away from the dancing ability as I have witnessed, there are lots of INDIAN dancers who have deadly regalias but could only out dance a HOBBYIST!

                        kahkakew

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                        • #13
                          i can kinda see what your saying but on the other hand i was always taught to take great pride in my regalia and make it lookmthe best as it can...i do the same for my son...but the important area is the dance..i can agree with you there without question.

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                          Robert Laughing Owl
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                          • #14
                            A few weeks ago at a competition pow-wow in Northern B.C., the lead singer from the host drum approached myself and commented on how in B.C. most of the mens tradish dancers all looked the same.

                            He has been a singer for 50 years and he stated that it was amazing to him how many dancers, young and old had eagle feathers everywhere. He went on to say, he remembered how hard it was to earn the rite to feathers, let alone an eagle.

                            He finished by saying that it was a pity that dancers with such beautiful regalias had little clue on how and why they were dancing mens tradish.

                            Quite a few dancers from back home had come for this pow-wow and a few said the same thing, "until these guys start dancing, you would think they were really good, then it is obvious they are not once the song starts"
                            Here in B.C., eagles are as common as mosquitoes, no not the metis, the real thing!

                            Alot of eagles are given away by the fish and wildlife to bands and Indian people. Many find their way to questionable people, who are seen at pow-wows with eagle feathers everywhere.

                            Strange how maintaining an old style regalia actually makes one stand out more here as contemporary regalias are more in vogue.

                            Regardless, the regalia is often what catches ones eye, but it is the ability to dance appropriately to the respective song that I look for and try to achieve. This is something a boyscout, wannabe or money can never buy or accomplish for a dancer. Having been taught the proper dance style and the meaning over and above the obvious is of great importance.

                            It means nothing to imitate the movements of an animal as you dance when that animal spirit has no significance in your life today or yesterday. What would a buffalo mean to a hobbyist? Zilch! Why would it as the buffalo has no connection to white society, it is part of our life.

                            To myself it is my family, guardian, ancestor, relative and friend, so having this connection helps one to connect with the spirit of the drum, regalia and self in the dancing...and someone said that pow-wow was not spiritual?

                            I am not saying that everyone has to dress in a tradish manner, but it help to be connected, aware and knwoledgeable of ones traditions more than a shiny outfit. Hopefully cacu is alright with this opinion?

                            Kahkakew

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                            • #15
                              now that i can agree with...i dont think it is the act of the regalia like you talk of but having it and really not caring about it, or not knowing what i means and not knowing what the dances mean...that makes alot of sense and i truly agree with you. I do not think that nice regalia makes someone less of a dancer or a person though...but what they really know about their regalia is the test...

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                              Robert Laughing Owl
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                              http://community.wolfstar.com/sc-aim
                              Robert Laughing Owl
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