Teton Sioux Music and Culture

By Frances Densmore | Go to book overview

CEREMONIES

THE WHITE BUFFALO CALF PIPE (PTEHIN′ĆALA ĆANOŊ′PA)

It is fitting that a narrative of the gift of the White Buffalo Calf pipe to the Sioux should introduce the present account of the ceremonies and customs of the tribe. Throughout this memoir reference will be made to ceremonial acts performed in accordance with the instructions of the White Buffalo Maiden, a supernatural being through whose agency the ceremonial pipe was given to the Sioux.1

The narrative in its present form was given by Iśna′la-wića′ ( Lone Man; see pl. 23), and is recorded in the words of the interpreter, Mr. Robert P. Higheagle. Preceding this recital by Lone Man, the subject had been studied with other informants for more than two years. A summary of this study was read to Lone Man and discussed with him, after which he was requested to give the narrative in connected form, incorporating therewith material which he wished to add.2

The ancient and sacred tradition of the Sioux was given by Lone Man as follows:

In the olden times it was a general custom for the Sioux tribe (especially the Teton band of Sioux) to assemble in a body once at least during the year. This gathering took place usually about that time of midsummer when everything looked beautiful and everybody rejoiced to live to see nature at its best--that was the season when the Sun-dance ceremony took place and vows were made and fulfilled. Sometimes the tribal gathering took place in the fall when wild game was in the best condition, when wild fruits of all kinds were ripe, and when the leaves on the trees and plants were the brightest.

One reason why the people gathered as they did was that the tribe as a whole might celebrate the victories, successes on the warpath, and other good fortunes which had occurred during the year while the bands were scattered and each band was acting somewhat independently. Another reason was that certain rules or laws were made by the head chiefs and other leaders of the tribe, by which each band of the tribe was governed. For instance, if a certain band got into trouble with some other tribe, as the Crows, the Sioux tribe as a whole should be notified. Or if an enemy or enemies came on their hunting grounds the tribe should be notified at once. In this way the Teton band of Sioux was protected as to its territory and its hunting grounds.

After these gatherings there was a scattering of the various bands. On one such occasion the Sans Arc band started toward the west. They were moving from place to place, expecting to find buffalo and other game which they would lay up for their winter supply, but they failed to find anything. A council was called and two young men were selected to go in quest of buffalo and other game. They started on foot. When they were out of sight they each went in a different direction, but met again at a place which they had agreed upon. While they were planning and planning

____________________
1
In connection with this chapter see Fletcher, Alice C., "The White Buffalo Festival of the Uncpapas", Peabody Museum Reports, III, Nos. 3 and 4, pp. 260-75, Cambridge, 1884.
2
Other material obtained from Lone Man is found in the chapter on the Sun dance (p. 92), the heyo′ka (pp. 159-170), and the sacred stones (pp. 214-217).

-63-

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Teton Sioux Music and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations - Black and White Plates ix
  • List of Songs xiii
  • Names of Singers xxvi
  • Phonetic Key xxviii
  • Teton Sioux Music 1
  • Introduction 1
  • Analysis of Sioux and Chippewa Songs 40
  • Ceremonies 63
  • Old Songs 152
  • Dreams and Their Obligations 157
  • Societies (okoălakiā06iye) 284
  • Comparatively Modern Songs 428
  • The Buffalo Hunt (wanásapi) 436
  • Council and Chief Songs 448
  • Songs Connected with Dances and Games 468
  • Miscellaneous Songs 492
  • Rhythimc Units 528
  • Bibliography 551
  • I N D E X 555
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