Return to tradition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe arrived just in time for the last few songs at a November gathering in Gray Horse under the scaffold of the newly built roundhouse.

Drummers kept a beat while dancers circled under the arbor as a cool breeze invited the women to wrap their shawls tighter.

I spotted my relative Leaf wearing a purple shawl and she showed us how the new roundhouse allows more seating and more standing room for the Osage gatherings.

The dances used to be held in November but were changed to June to accommodate tribes-folk who moved away from the communities.

The gathering Friday night harkened back to an old tradition, this time under a new roof.

The roundhouse symbolizes much of American Indian sensibilities of the 21st century.

We cherish the stories and relish the customs while, at the same time, we carve channels for change.

In the old days, when resources were slim, dancers would dress in what they had on hand–sometimes fancy, sometimes ordinary garments.

Leaf pointed out that a man might wear whatever vest was available, for example.

Today a man’s regalia is richly hued, layered with leather, fabric and beads, and far from simple. Each year the outfits look more refined.

The traditional look has given way to more embellishments–embellishments that honor Osage histories, customs and traditions.

But the simple outfit, in some ways, bears more resemblance to the past.

4 November Blog for National Native American Heritage Month

Photo of the author at Fairfax, Oklahoma


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, Indian, Indian relocation, journalism, Kennewick Man, Lakota, native american, native press, Native Science, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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