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Impearls: HIC 3.08: The brush dance

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

The brush dance   by A. L. Kroeber

A minor dance is called the “brush dance” by the Americans.  It is ostensibly held to cure an ailing child.  As a matter of fact it is often made when the younger men are desirous of a holiday.  Whether, however, the initiative comes from an alarmed mother or from those who wish to enjoy themselves, the sick child must be provided.  It is kept at the dance all night, and the woman who recites the formula speaks it for the child's benefit.  The dance is held in the living house, but the roof and most of the walls of this are taken down for the occasion.  On the first night young men dance about the fire for a few hours.  They wear no ornaments but hold boughs of foliage up before them.  The following night is an intermission, and on the third or fourth night the dance proper takes place from dark until dawn.  The regalia are somewhat variable, especially as regards headdresses, but represent no great value.  Arrow-filled quivers and sometimes small obsidian blades mounted on sticks are carried.  All ornaments of considerable intrinsic value are reserved for the two great dances.  The participants enter the house in competitive parties, each dancing to three songs on every appearance.  Two formulas are in use for the dance, or, it would be better to say, two types of ceremonial action in connection with the formula, since the latter is always somewhat different according to the individual reciting it.  The umeleyek formula is spoken on the first and third nights; the alternative worero, which is considered stronger, on the first and fourth, and is followed by the waving of pitch-pine brands over the child.



2 comments:  (End
(Perma)  On Saturday, April 8, 2006 at 9:44:00 PM GMT, Blogger nativehoney27 wrote:   
I'm a Yurok from Trinidad, California and I don't know where you got your information on Brush Dances but you have been misinformed to say the least. I was actually insulted as I was reading this lame attempt to explain what a Brush Dance was. I don't even want to know the opinion on the other ceremonies we hold so my visit to this site will be cut short. Do yourself a favor and preform a little research into the matter before posting it on the internet.

(Perma)  On Friday, January 25, 2008 at 1:01:00 PM GMT, Blogger yuroknative wrote:   
I am a Yurok Tribal member. I must say I was and am troubled by the words I read about the Brush Dance. I grew up in a family who carries medicine. My great uncle Calvin Rube was a medicine doctor. Many of us in my family grew up dancing in the Brush Dance. My nieces and many cousins were medicine boys and girls. This dance that you speak of is more to us than just entertainment,it is a place where parents take their sick child to pray for the Creator to heal them. I feel the things you had to say were a slap in the face. It is obvious that you didn't have any facts on what you were writing about. I would suggest that you do some more research, seek out some of our elders and hear what they have to say. I believe you would walk away from it with a greater respect for the ways of the Yurok people than what you portray here. Don't just assume you have all the facts. What you don't know only hurts other people because you are only giving half the truth.

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