Mandan Social and Ceremonial Organization

By Alfred W. Bowers | Go to book overview

Chapter XV
THE WHITE BUFFALO COW SOCIETY1

THE two highest of the four women’s age-grade societies, the White Buffalo Cow and Goose societies, were religious in character. The Goose Society2 was organized, according to tradition, by Good Furred Robe to dance during the Corn ceremonies. During the time women were performing the ceremony, they would dream of corn or the supernatural beings associated with corn so that, when the time came to sell the society to younger women and buy into the next age-grade society, most women had minor rights in the Corn ceremonies and were invited to come to the corn feasts.

When Calf Woman was two years old, she was taken into the White Buffalo Cow Society to represent the buffalo calf. As a young woman she bought into the Goose Society. After selling out to younger women, she always attended and danced with the society. There was not the entire relinquishment of rights in the two highest Mandan women’s societies so characteristic of the men’s societies and the lower women’s societies. Both Scattercorn and Calf Woman were in agreement that this was due to their religious character. The Goose Society was associated with the spring and fall migration of the birds and the summer Corn ceremonies. The White Buffalo Cow Society was associated with the winter migration of the buffalo herds from the flats to the river bottoms. The ceremony was held during the shortest days to bring the winter buffaloes. While the ceremony was in progress, the Black Mouth Society policed the winter village to see that none chopped wood, left the village to hunt, or had their dogs running loose. Announcement was given in advance that

1. See Maximilian in Early Western Travels, 1748–1846, ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites (Cleveland, 1906), XXIII, 297; XXIV, 48–49; Henry A. Boiler, Among the Indians (Philadelphia, 1868), pp. 216–22; Robert H. Lowie, Societies of the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians (“Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History,” Vol. XI [1916]), pp. 346–54.

2. See Boiler, op. cit., pp. 147–49 and 283.

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Mandan Social and Ceremonial Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Table of Contents xv
  • List of Illustrations xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Historic Background 8
  • Part I 21
  • Chapter I- The Social Organization 23
  • Chapter II- The Kinship System 37
  • Chapter III- The Mandan Life-Cycle 58
  • Part II 103
  • Introduction to Mandan Eremonialism 105
  • Chapter IV- The Okipa Ceremony 111
  • Chapter V - Personal Bundles and Vision Experiences 164
  • Chapter VI - The Corn Ceremonies 183
  • Chapter VII - Eagle-Trapping Ceremony1 206
  • Chapter VIII - Catfish-Trapping Ceremony 255
  • Chapter IX - Big Bird Ceremony 260
  • Chapter X - The Small Hawk Ceremony 270
  • Chapter XI - The Snow Owl Ceremony 282
  • Chapter XII - People above Ceremony 296
  • Chapter XIII - The Shell Robe Bundle 308
  • Chapter XIV - Red Stick Ceremony 315
  • Chapter XV - The White Buffalo Cow Society1 324
  • Chapter XVI - Adoption Pipe Ceremony 329
  • Summary 333
  • Chapter XVII - Summary 335
  • Appendixes 345
  • Appendix I - Myths of the Okipa Ceremony 347
  • Appendix II - Nuptadi Shell Robe Bundle Myth Related by Ben Benson1 366
  • Appendix III - Awatixa Shell Robe Bundle Myth Related by Bears Arm 370
  • Appendix IV- Additional Notes on Eagle-Trapping 374
  • Bibliography 395
  • Bibliography 397
  • Index 401
  • Index 403
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