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p. 124


The ritual of the Eagle Society consists of ten songs and a dance. The song is called Ganê`'gwae: oä`'no`. Every member participating in the ceremony paints on each cheek a round red spot. No one but members may engage in its ceremonies, even though these be performed publicly. The Eagle Society's ceremony is regarded as most sacred, in this respect next to the Great Feather Dance, O`stowä'gowa. It is believed that the society holds in its songs the most potent charms known. It is said that the dying, especially those afflicted with wasting diseases, and old people, have been completely restored by its ceremonies. This is because the Dew Eagle, to which the society is dedicated, is the reviver of wilting things. 1 The membership is divided into two classes by phratryship. A person may become a member by dreaming such a thing necessary, or by receiving the rites of the society in case of illness. Special costumes are worn in the ceremonies. In the dance the members divide and stand opposite each other according to phratry, the animals opposite the birds. Two dancers from each phratry are chosen, and cone singer from each. The dancers assume a squatting posture and imitate the motions of birds. The physical exertion is intense and requires constant interruption. The dancers and singers continue to dance and sing until completely exhausted, unless someone strikes the signal pole and makes a speech. The dancers then retire to their benches until the speech ends, when the singers take up their song and the dance is continued. After his speech, the speaker, who may be any member, presents the dancers for whom he speaks with a gift of money, tobacco, or bread: but the old custom was to give only such things as birds liked for food. The speeches are usually in praise of one's own clan and in derision of the opposite phratry. At the close, the speakers all apologize for their clannish zeal, and say, as if everyone did not known it, that their jibes were intended only as jests. The dancers each hold in their left hands a calumet fan, made by suspending six heron or four eagle feathers parallel and horizontally from a rod or reed. In their right hands they hold small gourd rattles with wooden handles, or small bark rattles made of a folded strip of hickory bark patterned after the larger False-face bark rattles. The signal pole and the striking stick are spirally striped with red paint. After the

p. 125

ceremony, when held in a private lodge, the members feast on a pig's head; but this is a modern substitute for a bear's or a deer's head, though crows' heads once were eaten also.


124:1 the Dew Eagle refreshed the scalp of the Good Hunter by plucking a feather from its breast and sprinkling the scalp with dew from the lake in the hollow of its back.

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