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(Many Paths)
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Reflecting & Breathing Life Into Warbonnets Bring In New Year
by Alexandria Alvarez- Sho-Ban News

FORT HALL, ID — A time for reflection on the year prior and to breathe life into warbonnets was reflected at the Annual Warbonnet Dance New Year's Eve at the Shoshone-Bannock Jr. and Sr. High School on December 31st.

But before the Warbonnet dance would take place, the evening's sessions began with a feast in the Sho-Ban High School cafeteria around 6 p.m.

After dinner, family and community members began filling the stands of the high school gymnasium, and Lionel Boyer would preside as master of ceremonies alongside Gifferd Osborne who would occasionally speak to audience members as well.

The evening opened with a prayer in Shoshoni from Lionel. After the prayer was over Lionel advised parents to make there children behave and pay attention to the evenings procession to ensure that they not only learn about the ceremonies, but also so that they can carry them on. 49 singers were then called to gather on the floor, and families were encouraged to stand with the women, while young men were encouraged to help hold the canvas.

After that, dancers took to the floors for inter-tribal dancing; parents often accompanied tiny tots either too shy or too young to walk well on their own. After the social dancing, the three ceremonial dances would become the focus, and Osborne would begin with a few opening remarks.

"I know in the past, it was looked down upon by the older generation to record these songs and ceremonies, but tonight for these I want to say that it is ok to record. As long as you are doing so for your own personal uses. These songs are not to be sung in the powwow, or sold to anyone. I am allowing this because I want young people to be able to learn from the recordings in case one day we are not here. A lot of the old ones are gone, and we appreciate what they have done for us, and today we are doing the best we can," said Gifferd.

He also reiterated the words of Lionel, that families must control their children so that they may learn.

"This is all for them, and I have seen the power of these ceremonies. I have been through some things the last few months, but with prayers I' am able to be here tonight. The power of prayer comes from within," concluded Gifferd.

The first dance was the shake dance, then the buffalo dance followed by the chokecherry or feast dance.

The second dance that took place was the buffalo dance in which Lionel Boyer explained.

"This dance depicts they way buffalo move through song. If you have ever watched buffalo, you would be able to see that they have a certain way of walking, they wallow; they stomp the earth to remind the seeds to start growing again next year," said Boyer.

The chokecherry dance is one of the original dances of Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The purpose of this dance was to give thanks for the traditional food sources that Shoshone-Bannock people have survived on since time immemorial.

Gifferd also thanked the young dancers who came out to assist each dance, and told audience members that it's important to remember that when doing these dances, you must participate in all three, you cannot merely do one.

The Warbonnet dance followed and Boyer explained the dance is done a number of ways, and there are different versions out there according to different tribes.

"The Eastern Shoshoni and Blackfeet have some of the same songs, while the Crow have some of the same dances, however the meaning is the same for all: it is done so that there is life for the future, it is done to help those who are in need; those serving in the armed forces, those who may be too sick to come out, or in the hospitals, this ceremony is done to give them a good blessings, and to bless and pray over the warbonnets that were brought out tonight. These songs are old and have been passed down from generation to generation. Again, the songs sung here should not be sung at powwows, they have their purpose. The first song is for the man, and the second song is for the women, this is the only time of year when women are allowed to wear the warbonnets is during this ceremony; the only exception is if a woman has been granted permission to wear a Warbonnet by her Tribe for serving time in the military and is considered a warrior," concluded Lionel.

After the conclusion of the Warbonnet Dance, the time was nearing midnight, and to fill in the time, round dancing was done to encourage participation of every family and guest who came out for the evening's activities. At the stroke of midnight, Lionel welcomed 2014 as kids with poppers pulled them, and families cheered welcoming the New Year!

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