When this rite is over, the fourth intermission of the Buffalo Dance is completed and the buffalo men should return to their robes. The Sun-Gaze Dance should immediately follow. There are four acts in this dance: the capture, the torture, the captivity, and the escape, which should be performed in the order named. The leader should give the signal for the beginning of the first act, when the buffalo men should stand, and in rapid succession announce the name of those chosen to be captors. When practicable, the one so chosen should be a buffalo man and be notified in advance so that he may be prepared to do his part. When his name is announced he should stand beside the one who chose him and relate the deeds that make him eligible. Thus, at one time there may be several captors haranguing, creating or augmenting the enthusiasm of the people. When the harangues are over the captors should come together a short distance from the dancers and feign discovery of the dancers as enemies. They should shout the war cry and rush upon the dancers, each grasp his dancer about the waist, wrestle with him, throw him prone, and loudly announce that he has captured an enemy. When all the dancers are thus made captive, their captors should feign to consult together, and determine to torture the captives. This ends the first act.
In the second act, the captors should each pierce the flesh of his captive and make wounds sufficient to accomplish the form of the Sun-Gaze Dance he is to dance. If he is to dance the second form, the captor should turn his captive's body face down and then grasp the skin and flesh of his back at one side of the spine, draw them out as far as possible, and pierce crosswise through the flesh with a sharp-pointed implement, so as to make a wound that the sharp-pointed stick provided may pass through; then the captor should make a like wound on the other side of the spine. If the captive is to dance the third form, his captor should grasp the skin and flesh
of the captive's breast, draw them out as far as possible, and pierce through the flesh, making a wound that will permit the sharp-pointed stick to pass through it; then be should make a like wound through the flesh of the captive's other breast; then he should turn the captive so that he will be face down and make like wounds on the back over each shoulder blade. If he is to dance the fourth form, the Captor should in like manner make wounds through each of the captive's breasts. When the wounds have been made, the captors should thrust through each wound one of the pointed sticks provided with the equipment and this concludes the second act. During this act, the maidens should stand beside the captives and encourage them to bear the torture without flinching and to smile and sing a song of defiance.
The maidens may wipe the blood that flows from the wounds with wisps of sweetgrass, for the incense made of sweetgrass with such blood on it is potent to insure constancy and reciprocity in love. While the tortures are inflicted, the musicians drum, rattle, and sing a war song. The female relatives of the captives should wail as in bereavement. The captors should sing victory songs and the people may shout or sing or ululate, so that the emotions may be wrought to a high pitch when the third act begins.
The act of captivity opens the Sun-Gaze Dance which begins with the binding of the captives, each according to the form he is to dance. If for the first form, the captor should bind to the sticks through the wounds with strong thongs as many of the buffalo heads provided as the captives chooses; if for the third form, the captor should bind to the sticks thrust through the wounds four strong thongs securely fastened to four posts, so that the dancer will be in the midst of the posts; if for the fourth form, the captor should bind the sticks through the wounds with strong thongs that are securely fastened to the Sacred Pole; or if the dancer is to dance actually suspended, the thongs bound to the sticks should pass through the fork of the Sacred Pole so that the dancer can be drawn from the ground or lowered to it. The thongs should be those provided with the equipment and should be so securely fastened that the most violent movement of the dancers will not loosen them, for if they become loosened while the dancers are dancing it is a sign that Iktomi has played his tricks to make the ceremony ridiculous.
There are twenty-four songs for the Sun-Gazing Dance, each of which, except the first and last, may be repeated as often as necessary to supply music for the periods. The first is the song of the captive and should be sung in slow measure, and low plaintive tones, the drum and rattles sounding gently. The last is a song of victory that should be sung only when the
dance is completed and then in loud and joyous tones, the drum and rattles sounding vigorously.
When the captives are all bound, the leader should give the signal for the dance to begin and then the dancers who are to dance the first form should come upon the uncovered space and those who are to dance the fourth form actually suspended should be hoisted by the thongs until they cannot touch the ground with their feet. Then the leader should signal the musicians and they should sing the first song. The dancers should dance during the first period with a slow and gentle step, the captives, except those suspended, feigning to try their bonds. The female relatives may wail and ululate and the people may shout and encourage them to attempt an escape.
Each period, when the intermission begins, the dancers should sit or recline to rest, the suspended ones being lowered to the ground for this purpose. Then the attendants, the maidens, and the female attendants should give the dancers such refreshment as the rite will permit. If the dancers perspire, the attendants should wipe the perspiration away with wisps of sage. If one dances far into the night, a woman who loves him may chew a little bark of the cottonwood, and mingle it with water, and in a surreptitious manner give him of this to drink and this will be connived at by the Superior.
At the signal of the leader to begin the second period, the attendants should place the buffalo tails in the hands of the captives, and the captors should feign to discover that the captives are buffalo men whom they should befriend. Then they should rush to the captives and protest that they are friends who will help them to escape from captivity. After this they are called the friends and each should remain by his dancer while he dances and should give him such aid to free him from his bonds as the rite will permit. At the signal of the leader the musicians should begin the second song and the dancers should dance as they did during the first period, but more vigorously. But they should not attempt to free themselves from their bonds until during, or after, the fourth period. The music and dancing should increase in vigor with each period and the enthusiasm of the people will probably increase in proportion until it becomes tumultuous.
The third period should be similar to the second, and the fourth similar to the third, except that while dancing during the fourth period the dancers should pull and jerk violently against their bonds and try to tear themselves free. During each of the following periods, the dancing should be similar to that during the fourth period. During each intermission, the attendants, the maidens, and the female attendants should minister to the comfort of the dancers. A dancer should dance during each period until he escapes
captivity which is accomplished by being freed from his bonds. If he escapes by tearing the sticks from the wounds, he has danced the Sun Dance to its completion in the most effective manner. But a dancer may swoon before he escapes, and if he does so his friend should unfasten his bonds and take the sticks from his wounds, and then it is considered that he has danced the Sun Dance to its completion in the least effective manner. Or, a dancer may become so exhausted that he cannot make a strong effort to free himself; if so, his female relatives may throw weighty things on the thongs that bind him to tear them loose. If this does not do so, they may offer the friend a valuable present if he will aid the dancer to escape.
Then the friend may grasp the dancer about the waist and add his strength to the effort to tear the sticks from the wounds. If they succeed, it is considered that the dancer has danced the Sun Dance to its completion in a less effective manner than if the sticks bad been torn from the wounds by the dancer unaided. It is most meritorious to dance until the sticks are torn from the wounds or until the leader announces that the Sun Dance is finished.
Each dancer escapes from captivity when he is freed from his bonds and his freedom should be celebrated by the people of his band accompanying him from the Dance Lodge to his tipi, his attendant, and a maiden supporting him as he goes there.