Gourd Dance: Honoring Veterans

There is a rich history of gourd lore and cultivation that goes back 10,000 years in Asia and 6,000 years in  Central America and 4,000 years ago in Africa.
Teaching Outline - Native American Gourd Dance

Gourds: a Warrior’s Song – classroom, scouts, and 4H - Native American month in November

Outline # 4 -  9/5/2011
1. Growing gourds
       a. How to pollinate
       b. When to Harvest
       c. Types of gourds
2. In the Beginning 
       a. Domesticated in China 10,000 years ago
       b. Domesticated in Africa 4,000 years ago
       c. Arrive in Central America 6,000 years ago
3. Creation of the Martin Birdhouse
       a. Creek and Cherokee Natives invented gourd birdhouse
       b. The native farmers refined the Martin Gourd
       c. The Native American farmers taught European immigrants to make
                 and use Martin houses

Legend of the Red Wolf

A Kiowa story recounts the tale of a young man who had been separated from the rest of the tribe. Hungry and dehydrated after many days of travel, the young man approached a hill and heard an unusual kind of singing coming from the other side. There he saw a red wolf singing and dancing on its hind legs. The man listened to the songs all afternoon and through the night and when morning came, the wolf spoke to him and told him to take the dance and songs back to the Kiowa people. The "howl" at the end of each gourd dance song is a tribute to the red wolf. The Kiowa Gourd Dance was once part of the Kiowa Sun Dance ceremony.
Other tribes including the Comanche and Cheyenne also have stories about the gourd dance. The Cheyenne believe that the Cheyenne tribe is the source of the gourd dance tradition and have elaborate oral tradition accounting for it. The ambiguity of origins of the dance may be because the gourd is simply a rattle. There are many types of rattles used by many different American Indian tribes, on many different occasions. It is possible that the "gourd" rattle designates a particular social organization of the dance, rather than simply the kind of rattle used. The modern gourd dance does indicate Kiowa influence pertaining both to the social etiquette and especially the songs. In the Southern Plains the gourd dance is dominated by Kiowa presence.

       a. The Red Wolf gives the Gourd Dance to a Kiowa Brave
                 i. Listen to the (recording) of the story of the Red Wolf
                 ii. Join in the Howl of the red Wolf at the end of the song

Red Wolf Song (502 KB)

I'm going north where the grey wolf country is.
The wolves might eat or kill me.
I may not come back.
Brother, if you don't come back, you will cry for me.

      b. Used to inspire warriors going into battle

       c. Used to honor surviving warriors and mourn those who died

5. The Gourd Dance today

       a. Began to be used after the Korean War
       b. Used to honor U. S. Veterans
       c. Used to purge the Powwow area of evil feelings

6. The Gourd Dance paraphernalia
        a. The blanket
        b. The vest
       c. The Gourd Shaker

7. Make and use a gourd shaker or make a gourd birdhouse
        a. Make a gourd shaker
        b. Sing and dance with the Red Wolf to honor our military

8. Where to learn more about Gourds
        a. American Gourd Society
        b. State Gourd Society
        c. Local Patch
        d. Reading list

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