Saturday, June 8

Fancy that

Oh boy, we got to attend a Gourd Dance tonight!

First we attended a banquet with many delicious foods, including traditional Navajo fry bread and mutton stew.

Then they danced!

The Gourd Dance is a Native American celebration dance and ceremony that originated with another tribe, not the Navajo.

The Master of Ceremonies tonight told us that four men went off to war, but one became ill so the others went for help. They heard an unusual sound coming from the other side of a hill, where they saw a red wolf singing and dancing on its hind legs. The wolf spoke to them and told them to take the songs and dances back to The People. A "howl" at the end of each Gourd Dance song is a tribute to the red wolf.

Veterans or their families traditionally do the gourd dance, but women can do the Shawl Dance around them. Most of the women were wearing plain street clothes, but their beautiful shawls reminded me of Kaya's Fancy Shawl Outfit of Today.

The women's Shawl Dance represents the opening of a cocoon when the butterfly emerges. The shawl is frequently the most extravagant piece of their wardrobe.

Fancy dance was originally created by Native Americans in the 1920s and 1930s in an attempt to preserve their culture. Fancy dance was considered appropriate to be performed for visitors to reservations and at "Wild West" shows. But today, fancy dancers can be seen at many powwows across the nation and even the world.

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