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3 Inner and Outer Influences This chapter continues to trace powwow history. I examine the juxtaposition of Native American dance activities during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with events organized by outsiders in which Indians participated and were frequently a major attraction. Although colonialism devastated the lifestyles and much of the traditional culture of Native Americans, these did not vanish. On the contrary, the force of Iruska and the actions and practices discussed in chapter 2 were kept alive and evolved in a multitude of ways. Years later some of these would reappear in the powwow dances we know today. From the mid-1800s into the twentieth century, massive numbers of nonNative people began to move from east to west. During this period, when the early contact dance societies were first recorded in earnest, Indians realized how valuable their dance and music performances could be in their interactions with the newcomers. As Native American scholar Philip J. Deloria notes: “Indian people of all tribes of course had performance traditions built around dance and religious practice, but these were meant for Indian audiences. First performances for non-Indians most likely came as part of diplomatic protocols. As contact zones became busier and more widely spread, non-Indian visitors increasingly took Native ceremonies as entertaining spectacles” (2004, 57). In addition, “Indian people on diplomatic visits to Washington D.C. would often be asked to perform songs and dances” (Deloria 2004, 57). Euro-Americans have always been intrigued by the dance of Native Americans and were drawn to their performances for a multitude of reasons that included curiosity and a kind of voyeurism about difference. Indians knew this and used it to their advantage by inviting non-Indians to many of their ceremonies. As a result, “By the mid-nineteenth century, Iroquois, Penobscot, and others had started offering Indian-show performances designed for urban audiences; these would expand in the later nineteenth century and the early twentieth to encompass performers from numerous tribes. Midcentury Indian performers—particularly those who devised and managed their own perfor- Inner and Outer Influences 37 mances—surely set and reinforced white expectations concerning Indian gesture , custom, and appearance, but, by and large, their material seems to have emerged from Native cultural practice rather than the fictions of the Indian play” (Deloria 2004, 57–58). When Indians organized “picnics,” Indian fairs and expositions, and summer encampments to revive many of the pre-reservation traditions, they welcomed non-Native people (Deloria 2004, Ellis 2003). Later, during the time when Indians voluntarily and involuntarily participated in performances organized by non-Indians, they continued to dance and produce their own events. This practice demonstrates that dance did not disappear from Indian culture. As one of a variety of Indian performance forms, dance continued to flourish. The fact that dance survived is attributable to the determination of Native peoples to retain their culture in the face of the threats posed to it. By the midnineteenth century, Christian missionaries, U.S. government officials, and the general settler population had mounted concerted attacks on Native dance. Many of these people feared and mistrusted gatherings such as the dance societies , the Ghost Dance religion, and the Sun Dance, and they perceived gatherings of Natives to worship in non-Christian ways as a threat to the successful colonization of the continent. As a result, Indian dance became a focus of government officials: For many years missionaries, educators, and even the government frowned upon Indian dancing. The great Sun Dance of the Sioux and other Plains tribes was forcibly suppressed, at the point of arms, in the early 1880s. All Indian dancing was feared as “war dancing.” Even betterinformed people who realized something of its real significance recommended its suppression because thus, at one blow, the entire social, political , and religious life of a tribe could be crushed. Dancing was the most Indian thing about Indians. The government wanted to destroy all tribal organization, everything Indian, and so struck the dancing first of all. (Laubin and Laubin 1976, 81) Although this negative and destructive attitude had existed from early contact days, in the late nineteenth century it took the form of an official battle as non-Indians responded to Native dancing with misunderstanding, disgust, and much worse. Tara Browner (2002), Clyde Ellis (2003), Jacqueline Shea Murphy (2007), Gloria Young (1981), and others have already written a great deal about this disturbing period in U.S. history. Here I focus on how the situation affected the development of...


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