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
"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
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,"
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
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,"
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