As with other Indian Nations, Shawnee ritual was expressed most publicly in their dances. The Shawnee ritual year opened with the Spring Bread Dance and closed with the Fall Bread Dance. Some Shawnee groups had a Green Corn Dance, but it was not the beginning of the ritual year as in other northeastern or southeastern woodland groups. It was rather related to the first ripening of the corn in early summer. In keeping with its basic subsistence pattern of hunting and gathering, the Shawnee moons were related to this aspect of their annual cycle rather than to planting, weeding and harvesting of the maize crop.
Erminie-Wheeler Voegelin with a cover letter letter to Frank Speck, signed by Carl and Erminie Voegelin. 572.97 Sp3 in the Frank G. Speck Papers, APS III. Northeast, E. Miscellaneous Tribes, 2. Shawnee, c. Shawnee Dances (Freeman Guide, 3649). CFV undoubtedly did the eliciting of the terms and EWV the ethnological descriptions. The cover letter is dated July 15, 1934 at 332 Kickapoo St., Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Invaluable as well are dances listed by Lewis Henry Morgon during his fieldwork in Kansas among the Shawnee in 1859-60. His source was Blue Jacket. The Shawnee Prophet, in Shawnee Traditions by Trowbridge (1824) lists some dances as well. In the discussion of Shawnee ritual, James H. Howard’s contributions to Shawnee Ceremonies, in Shawnee!, will be fully utilized.
Fall Bread Dance:
Prophet: Tuhkoakaawaa “is a dance performed by women. It is danced for amusement only. This peculiarity and the custom of the women to join the man in singing are its only characteristics. The dancers form a line, fronting the man who sings, and they join him in singing a kind of prelude, which continues some minutes, when they commence, the man singing alone, and dance around in a circular manner.”
Erminie-Wheeler Voegelin “Season for all dances closes with this, a night dance of amusement following the same evening of the Bread Dance and being the last such until the next spring. A night dance follows immediately after dark on the same day that the Bread Dance is danced; this closes the season for night dances of amusement. No dances given after that until the Spring Bread Dance.”
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