How to Honour a Native American Event through Giving
From time to time, something will happen in your life that you want to commemorate at a Native American dance: a birthday; an award received; an anniversary; etc. How should you acknowledge this event? A special with a giveaway? Some other manner?
Honoring and specials can be broken into three tiers: making a donation, buying a song, and having a giveaway. The first consideration is what kind or how big of an event you are wanting to recognize.
Making a donation to the Native American committee is probably appropriate for something like a birthday, an anniversary, an award, etc. Just give the donation to the MC and ask him to announce something like: “A donations has been made in honor of Joe’s 50th birthday” or “Donation has been made by Bill in honor of Slim receiving an award from the organization. ”
Buying a song is probably appropriate for items of a little more significant like a daughter winning the princess contest, a family member/friend winning a major dance contest, to honor the winners of the craft contest, etc. For this type of honoring you would normally make arrangements with the head singer (and pay him for the song) and make a donation to the Native American committee. You need to coordinate this with the MC to be sure the schedule will accommodate the song. You should ask the MC to announce something like: “The 1st song of the next set has been purchased by Bill in honor of his daughter Jill winning the princess contest. We ask that everyone join in with her.” It could be ”The 1st song of the next set has been purchased by Bill in honor of all winners of the dance contests. We ask that all contest winners make one round and then everyone join in.”
Having a giveaway is appropriate for the major events in your life–being head dancer, entering the Native American arena in you dance clothes for the first time, bringing a child into the arena for the first time, coming out of mourning, etc. For this type of honoring, you will need to make arrangements with the head singer (and pay him for the song) and coordinate the timing with the MC. You should coordinate with your speaker as to what he will say about you and the event. Ask the MC to announce your honoring with something like: “At this time Bill has requested a special in honor of being the head man dancer. Joe will be speaking for Bill after the song. We ask that all friends and relations join Bill during his special.” This type of special will have a receiving line following the completion of the song and then the giveaway.
Remember, the main principle is that you are honoring an event in your life–things should be done in a dignified manner. Another basic principle is to simply do the best you can–do not worry about whether or not your giveaway is as big or nice as someone elses.
How you conduct yourself and the meaning you put into your giveaway is what really matters. Here is a recommended order in most giveaways:
- The person speaking for you
- The man who led the song
- Head singer
- Head man dancer
- Head lady dancer
- Head gourd dancer
- Head veteran dancer
- Master of ceremonies
- Organizations (host of the event)
- Members of the Drums
- Groups of people
- People who traveled distance
- Any other desired group–mother, fathers, etc.
- Put money collected in receiving line on the Drum
Since it is the role of the family to support you in your giveaway, family members are not usually called. An alternative to calling individual is to give to them during the dance or in camp before or after the dance. Just have your speaker mention that in the interest of time, you are/will be/have been giving gifts to individuals “outside of the arena”. Also, if the dance is on a special weekend or in conjunction with a Native American event, you might want to call that “special” group. It recognizes those people and places with a little more emphasis on the date.
As far as what to give, the two primary “categories” are food and shelter–thus the normality of gifts like blankets, shawls, and basket /boxes of food. However, just about anything of value/utility is acceptable–craft items, craft supplies, household supplies, etc.
One note for speakers at a giveaway: never apologize for the time used. A giveaway is a very appropriate use of time, an apology is not in order. Thank everyone for the time used, but do not apologize. And do your best to minimize the time consumed–try to time your calling of names so that there is only a few seconds of “dead time” between the people reaching the person having the giveaway at the Native American event.
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