Sunday, October 02, 2011


This dance is the first and most formal dance to be performed on the occasion of the annual ceremonies. It is in honor of a creature called Big Turtle, Dato8a', a supernatural horned reptile, denoted in Yuchi as a turtle though having a snake-like body, which figures conspicuously in southeastern mythology. This being is associated with the rainbow, storms, thunder, lightning and also disease. A stuffed deerskin effigy of the creature colored blue rested on the ground in front of the north lodge of the town square, in former times.

As I have given a more detailed account of this dance in Part One of this volume, an abstract from the original source1 will convey a clearer idea of the scene.

The dancers, grouping themselves about the leader who sings and rattles, form a compact mass and begin moving in a circle. A woman with the leg rattles, joins the throng of dancers when they start to circle in single file about the fire contra-clockwise. When the leader finishes the first song he whoops and the dancers disperse for a short interval. Soon the leader begins finding the fire, singing the introduction (A) and the dancers who have been resting, seated in the lodges on the square-ground, file in again behind him. No drumming accompanies this dance.

The following version of the song was sung by Ku'ba.

The above is a sort of gathering song which is continued as long as the dancers are grouped closely on the corner of the square-ground. The syllables are yo hyo, hd' (the chorus joining vigorously on ho').

When the leader breaks out of this group and starts dancing and rattling toward the fire he changes the tune to the following, which is continued until the end of the first dance.

(A) M.M. J = 100.

*J Repeat five times.

Yuchi and Creek Dances Speck Ethnography (1909)

(pages 201-202)

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