American culture has opened up from a more or less closed society during
this time in the 2000. The automobile allowing folks to travel easily
long distances and in a short time probably contributes to this blending
of the tribes customs. First there was the mixing of the tribes and then
came the acceptance of other races who are part of one or another blood.
This inevitably leads to
the entering of the circle by those who have no Indian heritage at all but
simply love the ways of the dance. These too have been accepted. Those
who remember the old ways and sacred traditions become less and less as
time goes along. Still, it is of importance to me to list what they knew
regarding the basis for tradition as it is known still.
One has to remember the
Native American was a deeply spiritual person who believed in a Great
Spirit, a higher power, who was real and a part of their world. The
second thing to remember is that the dances were not just games for fun.
They were a part of the spirituality “acted out,” for a better word.
My own mother did vocally
express her displeasure with the way youth or “Okee-tees” (people of other
races) went into the circle with total abandon. Maybe their shawl was on
crooked, or one side of it drags the ground, and even only partially
covering one shoulders with it hanging, broken wing like, on that side.
If this person too went into the circle laughing, gawking about at other
dancers, chewing gum or any other ways which were disrespectful it grated
Centuries ago the Hebrew
people had a deep respect for their fringed shawl. It symbolized the wings
of God under whom they were protected. This is already documented by those
who have studied and can quote the Hebrew scriptures for this tradition.
With this understanding I can now see why Mother felt the way she did
about the misconduct of untaught people going into the circle. Would you
boldly stare at someone who was in a moment of prayer? Would someone be
busily smacking at their gum while they were earnestly seeking the
presence of their God? Would one of God's wings be inappropriately broken
and hanging off one side unable to defend? Is it possible for that Great
Spirit to be dragged through the dirt and ground being soiled by the act?
All these things are what is tied up in the conduct and ethics of those
entering that sacred circle where all coming together as one are joined in
union to gain their creators favor and attention.
For myself, my Father
raised me as a Christian and this was to remember our creator's basic
teaching of love, joy, kindness, mildness, peace, self-control, faith.
Branching off these are the other principles of respect, goodness,
patience, and all the other virtues involved. My path is not with my
Native ancestors. However, as a fellow human who prays for the well being
of all people, it is my duty to treat another's worship with respect.
And, I believe, it is a good thing for any and all who take up the ways of
the Native American.
Any religion practiced is
essentially for one's mental and physical health. This is certainly true
with the Native American. The dancing is joyful, and the physical exercise
is cleansing. The sweat lodge is beneficial for mind and body. So, let any
of those taking on the traditions do so with deep respect, leaving off
some of the more frivolous ways of just having the attitude of “party
time” fun to be set aside remembering the original purpose for the
ceremonies. Hopefully, mothers' will teach their daughters the proper
manners for the ceremonies.
Here is a link to Ella
Little Bird, a woman who I believe personifies exactly of what I speak as
she models her shawls. See both pictures.