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Impearls: HIC 5.09: Girls' adolescence ceremony

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Girls' adolescence ceremony   by A. L. Kroeber

Like the Hupa, but unlike the Yurok, the Karok made a dance for adolescent girls.  Contrary to the usual Californian custom, this dance was performed chiefly by men — a distinctly northwestern attitude.  The opening was especially reminiscent of the Deerskin dance: men stood in line, the singer in the middle, the girl danced back and forth before them.  Then followed a round dance such as is most common in the ceremony elsewhere in California.  A ring of men surrounded the maiden, a circle of women stood outside, and both revolved dextrally.  One by one the men took the girl from behind and danced with her.  Finally the war or defiance dance was made, apparently by the men only, lined up abreast.  No one wore regalia of much moment.  The girl herself had on a little visor of jay feathers, and carried a rattle of deer hoofs, an implement used in this dance by almost all groups of California.  Neither object is employed by the Yurok.

The dance was made at night to keep the girl awake; she herself shook the rattle.  For 10 days she ate no flesh and drank no water, might not look at the sun or sky, could not touch water to her face.  Each morning she carried to the house 10 loads of wood cut by a female relative.  On the last day she emerged early and ran back and forth 10 times, motioning at the morning star as if to catch it, and asking it to give her long life and many dentalia.  The entire observance was repeated twice subsequently.



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