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A Cree Indian thirst dance.

Anonymous: "A Cree Indian thirst dance", Tradition and Art 087, p. 16, Athens, I.O.F.A., May – June 2006. The Graphic, London, 20⁄11∕1881, p. 534.

A Cree Indian thirst dance

"My sketch", writes Captain R. W. Rutherford, R.C.A., "represents an Indian Thirst, or Sun Dance, the occasion being the proving by the young Indian bucks that they are braves. They work holes in their breasts, first cutting two slits in either side, and pulling away the flesh until two loops are made, through which they pass a couple of lariats, the other ends being fastened to the top of the centre pole of the lodge. They then have to jerk themselves against the strain until the flesh is torn away, and the amount of torture they can bear in this way gauges the valour of which they are supposed to be possessed. A brave has only to prove himself such in this way once in his life. The other Indians sit round singing, beating their tom-toms, and shaking their rattles, the squaws meanwhile blowing away on whistles, and the papooses squalling, so that altogether they make a glorious chorus.

"The Thirst Lodge, in which the dance takes place, is constructed of a circular framework of tree stems, with a large pole or trunk in the middle, the whole being covered in with tree branches, generally birch. Inside there is a sort of fence or dress circle, as it were, of tree boughs with their foliage on, intertwined behind which is a row of the principal braves. At the top of the centre post is a large bunch of foliage, decorated with strips of cloth of all colours, which also hang down the post itself. The young brave holds in his hands a couple of flags on crossed sticks, and in his mouth a bit of wood"

 

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