Ceremonies and Dances of Ojibway Tribe Essay

“When Ah-ki’ (the Earth) was young, it was said that the Earth had a family. Nee-ba-gee’-sis (the Moon) is called Grandmother, and Gee’-sis (the Sun) is called Grandfather. The Creator of this family is called Gi’-tchie Man-i-to'(Great Mystery or Creator). The Earth is said to be a woman. In this way it is understood that woman preceded man on the Earth. She is called Mother Earth because from her come all living things. Water is her life blood.

It flows through her, nourishes her, and purifies her. On the surface of the Earth, all is given Four Sacred Directions–North, South, East, and West.Each of these directions contributes a vital part to the wholeness of the Earth. Each has physical powers as well as spiritual powers, as do all things. When she was young, the Earth was filled with beauty. The Creator sent his singers in the form of birds to the Earth to carry the seeds of life to all of the Four Directions.

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In this way life was spread across the Earth. On the Earth the Creator placed the swimming creatures of the water. He gave life to all the plant and insect world. He placed the crawling things and the four-leggeds on the land.All of these parts of life lived in harmony with each other. Gitchie Manito then took four parts of Mother Earth and blew into them using a Sacred Shell. From the union of the Four Sacred Elements and his breath, man was created. It is said the Gitchie Manito then lowered man to the Earth.

Thus, man was the last form of life to be placed on Earth. From this Original Man came the A-nish-i-na’-be people. ” This short version of the Ojibwa creation gives us an insight into how they think of the earth and how they live.The main focus of their tribe is respect. They show respect by being honest in their ceremonies and being thankful for the earth that gives them shelter and food.

The focus of this paper is to discuss and describe some of the various dances and ceremonies of the Ojibwa tribe. The Naming Ceremony The naming ceremony is said to be a remembrance of the “Original Man” who had to name all the creatures and plants that had been placed on mother earth. After a child was born, the mother or father had to ask the medicine person to seek a name for their child.The medicine person had several options to come up with a name; they could reveal the name through fasting, meditation, prayer or dreaming.

Once the spirits gave them a name through one of the methods, the tribe would hold a gathering in which the medicine person burned tobacco as and offering and pronounced the new name to each of the four directions. Everyone present would also repeat the name as it was called out. The parents would ask four men and four women to sponsor their child and then they would publicly vow to guide and support the child.This ceremony presents the child to the spirit world, in which they recognize the face of the child for the first time as a living thing. The spirit world and ancestors then guard the child and prepare a place for the child when their life ends. The naming ceremony is very important because it makes their presence visible to the spirit world so that they will have a secure place with their ancestors in the spirit world when they pass away. The Buffalo Dance The purpose of the Buffalo Dance was to heal the sick and bring more buffalo the area and also to beef up the existing buffalo.

They were used for shelter, food and medicine. If they were low on buffalo there would be disastrous consequences. The dance started when men who had dreamed of buffalo had a giant feast. Everyone brought a dish to the feast. The four men wearing buffalo head caps or masks, danced while four others sang.

Eight women also took part. There were skaupewis (servants) there to fill the pipes. Sexual Purity Confession Before any ceremony, a “runner” was sent out to invite guests and give advance notice so that they could abstain from sexual intercourse for four days before the ceremony.

If one did not adhere to this rule, would arrive at the ceremony with their face painted half black. Anyone who had this mark on them would not be an active participant in the ceremony, but perhaps an onlooker. This goes for any ceremony; the next description is specifically a ceremony about sexual purity. When men were given the right in a dream, they would call a meeting where people gathered in his lodge. A large painted rock was placed in the center of the room. Everyone sat around the sound so that it could hear their words.

The elders would be the first to share their illicit sexual encounter. Then the youths would go and lastly the women. The liars would be struck with disaster. Men who were not honest were certain to be slain in their next war party. The Pitawin or Weeing Ceremony The Pitawin or Weeing Ceremony was said to have come from the west and was held in the fall.

It was hosted by the man who had dreamed of thunderbirds. The participants first fasted for four days; the last night of fast before they could eat again is when the ceremony began.They assembled a tent and a four foot grill of sticks to serve as a platform supported by crooked sticks hung with feathers. On this was placed cloth, calicoes, blankets and other gifts. At nightfall the men would circle the tent four times wailing unpleasantly. Sometimes they would make their horses fast with them. Then at this step in the ceremony attach themselves to the beasts by cutting the flesh on their shoulders and inserting wooden screws which attached to the horse.

The participant would then attempt to lead the horse around the tent four times.It is said the powers would order to follow the man and would never hurt or try to escape its master. Those who had power from the bison would drag buffalo skulls secured to their flesh. After all this had taken they would then enter the tent and sit against the wall and sing. After some time of singing, the skaupewis came and filled ten birchbark cups with maple syrup were passed around. This was repeated with water afterwards.

Then they all feasted. After this, the host would deliver harangues (long speech) about Kitci Manitu. The participants then ate, sang and danced until dawn.Bear Ceremony A long time ago, when a hunter found a bear den, the hunter would approach the den and say “I am thankful that I found you and sorry that I am obliged to kill you”. This adds into the idea that the Ojibway had great respect for all that mother earth provided for them and that they wanted to show how thankful they were.

When the bear was killed, the tip of its nose was cut off along with one of its claws. Using the claw, some sticks were painted and placed with the bear’s muzzle. When the bear was brought back to the ribe, the head with a brisket and four paws were cut off and cooked.

The hunter would call the tribe to feast and choose a worthy elder. He then presented a pipe to the elder. The elder would smoke and explain to everyone the purpose of the gathering. He then would pray to the good gods that this was not a greed ridden killed, but rather for nourishment.

After he spoke everyone would yell “Oh! ” and fell to the floor. Throughout the feast the nose with painted sticks would lay exposed nearby along with other sacrifices, another sign of respect to the bear, earth and spirits.After the ceremony where every part of the bear was devoured, the hunter would gather the bones and wrap them carefully. The hunter would then take the cloaked bones out to the woods where they would be carefully hidden in a high place. Throughout this paper I have discussed the Ojibway tribe’s dances and ceremonies. A common part of the ceremonies is that they would be started by someone dreaming.

The spirits would come to them in their dreams and that is when the ceremony really started. This shows the deep spirituality of the tribe and how they held great respect for the spirits and their ancestors. Through their ceremonies they illustrated their respect to make them happy.Works citedEddie Benton Banai. “The Ojibwe Creation Story. ” The Ojibwe Creation Story.

Allen Aslan Heart, 2007. Web. Nov. 2012. excerpt from his book Skinner, Alanson. “Dances and Ceremonies of the Ojibway. ” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History.

Vol. 11. New York: Published by Order of the Trustees, 1914. 506-11.

Print. Part 6. “An Introduction to Ojibway Culture and History.

” Ojibway Culture and History. N. p. , n. d. Web.

Nov. 2012.


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