Regalia - Grass Dancer

Regalia - Grass Dancer

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The grass dance is a fast paced dance consisting of sweeping motions and symmetry. It is generally faster than Northern Tradition or Straight style dancing, but not as fast as a Fancy dance. Like with most pow wow dances, the dancer brings his foot down to tap or step on the drum beat. Whatever the grass dancer does on one side of his body, he must also do that on the other side to create symmetry and mimic waving grass. Wide sweeping motions and tapping are also used to imitate laying down the grass. Other movements show a warrior stalking the enemy or game through tall grass. One dance steps typical of this involves one foot being firmly planted on the ground while the rest of the body moves around it. This is said to show a warrior still fighting when one foot has been staked down.

The main difference between grass dance regalia and the regalia of the other pow wow styles is that there are very few if any feathers compared to bustles of most men's dances. The regalia of the grass dancer instead consists of brightly colored fringe made of yarn or ribbon. While most dances involve making the bustle move, the grass dancer is instead intent on the swaying of the fringe. The dancer wears a roach headdress with either one to two feathers or two fluff antennae. A fully or partially beaded set consists of an "H-Harness" (two long suspenders that hang to below the knees and a belt), cuffs, headband, and side tabs. Grass dancers normally carry feather fans, mirror board, scarves, dream catchers, hoops, or dance sticks.

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Nakima Geimausaddle says:

December 28, 2012

I watched my Great grandfather teach my uncles and cousins how to do the Grass Dance when I was young. The story he told us that was behind the Grass Daance is as follows:
The grass grows very tall on the plains where our villages spent the summer, and the women could not set up their lodges on this tall grass without them falling over, so the men and boys would have to go twist and trample the grass down. They watched how the buffalo did the same thing before bedding down at night so that the herd could see and hear approaching predators.

It was very hard work, trampling this grass down on a hot summer day. To take their mind off the heat and the labor some of the men began singing, and others began twisting and trampling the grass in time with the music. Our people honored our brothers, the buffalo, who taught us how to do this, by attaching grass to the leggingins and across the shoulders like the buffalo’s hair. Many of the moves that were done mimicked the buffalo such as the shimmy, and going down low like a buffalo laying down in the grass.

War society members, who were working to trample the grass, then made competitions between themselves to see who could clear the most grass, and whose dances were better than others, but it was not exclusive to the war societies, any man or boy joined in to help.
This is the way it was explained to me by my Grandfather Elmo Redfox.