Excerpts from "Dances evolve from dreams,
ceremony or appreciating life"
By Sara Wea Irwin
Sho-Ban News Festival Edition, August 2002
Lori Edmo Suppah, editor
Photo by Kel Ariwite
Dancing has always been a part of Native American culture. Many tribes
have their different interpretations of the stories and meanings, families
and individuals also have their own and there are special reasons why they
do certain things.
Many dances start from dreams, ceremony, and the feeling, which comes
from appreciating life. These dances are translated in the Shoshone language
next to their English terms.
Is the first song sung to bring in the dancers beginning with the veterans,
or warriors of the tribe that dance the flags into the arena. The royalty
follow that are chosen representatives for their people and families. Afterwards,
the elders dance followed by each category and the youth bring in the tail.
War Dance/ Men's Traditional Dance dasa'yeegwipe.
This dance originated from long ago when members of the tribe would tell
about their experiences on the battlefield by dancing it out. The story
would tell how a battle was won, mimicking how a certain deed was accomplished.
So, each dancer dances their own dance style.
Women's Traditional Dance wa'ai pe'an nekape
This is done by the women of the tribe, young and old, to show pride
and how a woman should walk in beauty. The Southern traditional story is
similar, and is related to a woman who lost her child and is looking for
that child, with a shawl on her arm to warm the lost child when he or she
Men's Fancy Dance
This is a fast paced dance stemming off of the men's traditional war
dance. It is a contemporary dance with the arena as the battlefield. This
dance is a competition with trick songs that the dancer must always keep
in beat with in order to win.
Women's Fancy Shawl / Butterfly Dance
This dance is related to a story from a woman who mourned the loss of
her husband and closed herself off to all her loved ones and wrapped herself
into a cocoon. When she finally came out she was renewed and ready to live
and rejoice. This dance is a metaphor to the butterfly.
Prairie Chicken Dance - Shake Dance neetoonoono'hi
This dance is a dance imitating the sage hen. During the mating season
this bird can be seen doing a dance ruffling it's feathers and turning circles.
This dance represents new start of life.
Owl Dance nagwabahnekape
Is a social dance for couples with the women choosing a partner. If
the man refused to dance, an old custom says that he must give her a token
of money in replacement. The couples dance holding each other and turning
small circles at different intervals as they dance in a larger circle.
Rabbit Dance gammu nekape
This is done in honor of the rabbit, because they were used as food
and their fur was used for blankets, clothing and shoes.