събота, 28 октомври 2017 г.

Shield Bearers - a woman society among Dakota

The earliest source on the Kat'ela Wacipi is Clark Wissler, "Societies and Ceremonial Associations in the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota." American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers, Vol. XI, Pt. I: (Pp. 1-99):

Pp. 75-76    "There was a woman's association regarded as of great age, but which has not held a meeting for about forty-two years [ca. 1870 - but see photo attachments!]. A few members are still living, among them Black Elk's mother. The original name for this was Kat'ela, a term of uncertain origin, but seemingly implying the killing of enemies. J.O. Dorsey ["A Study of Siouan Cults": 498] gives another name, Taniga Icu society. The latter name was "shield-bearers" and their dance was sometimes spoken of as "the wounded". To qualify as a member one must have a husband or relatives with many deeds to their credit. The woman carries in the dance some of the arrows or regalia of the man honored. In later times, it is said, they usually carried a shield, so that the bearing of a shield became the symbol of the ceremony. Men took no part in the dance, except that four were selected to do the drumming and to assist in the singing. The members had no special regalia and no distinct organization. Their faces were painted black. The association was called together by a woman having a son or relative who returned with a horse or from killing an enemy. She makes a feast for all the Kat'ela women, who dance the Kat'ela songs in honor of the woman's son. They also give presents. The dance was usually in the open before the tipis of head men, where they stood in a circle, sang their songs and danced toward the center [where they would mimic counting coup on the women opposite them]. It seems that once having qualified to enter the dance, a woman had the privilege of participating in all the Kat'ela ceremonies during her life.

In recent years, 'the wounded' dance was sometimes given at the Omaha [Grass Dance] assemblages. Formerly, these demonstrations were supposed to stimulate the men to deeds of bravery in that their women might glorify them."

The attached photos illustrate many of the details mentioned by Wissler's informants. It is clear that one informant was mistaken in suggesting that there hadn't been any meetings "in 42 years."

With Fr. Buechel's Lakota-English Dictionary, we have better information available to us than Clark Wissler did in 1912. Either his mixed-blood interpreters did not have a clear understanding of Lakota; or they were trying to conceal some of the details that Wissler inquired about.

Kat'ela Wacipi

Ka (to touch with the hand) t'e (to die) la (!) wacipi (pronounced "wa-chee-pee" - a dance):  "A dance for one who touched a dead enemy with his hand;" or "They are dancing for one who touched a dead enemy with his hand."

Many of these (obviously) ceremonial dresses have a pair of appliqued hand motifs on the breast. I would suggest this is the specific emblem of the Kat'ela Society, symbolic of "touching a dead enemy," or a 1st coup, denoted in the name of the organization. This partly contradicts the statement given to Wissler: "The members had no special regalia." Perhaps these applique decorations were a late development among Kat'ela members at Pine Ridge, somewhere after 1885.

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