Native American Earrings
In early times both men and women of the Omaha/Ponca had their ears pierced for the first time at a very early age, usually about 3 or 4 years old, when they could walk on their own. Ear piercing was considered a “rite of passage” and the family of the child would gift the person doing the piercing in a very generous manner. Both male and female would then wear earrings the rest of their lives. (Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage, 1986)
Consequently, during the Hethuska dance ceremony it was only natural for men to wear earrings.
For other tribes, such as the Pawnee, the amount of ball and cone silver earrings worn, at one time had to do with war honors. (JoJo Lane, Pawnee, 1988)
The most common early style of earring wwere:
1. A silver wire loop.
2. A silver wire loop with a number of variations of items either threaded through the silver wire loop, or dangling from the silver wire loop, such as:
a) a silver bead or beads
b) a trade bead or beads
c) a silver bead and dangling silver cone
d) a piece of shell
e) a length of silver chain hanging from the loop
f) a length of silver chain hanging from the loop with stamped silver dangle
g) a bone hairpipe or hairpipes
3. Hook earring with a number of silver dangle variations.
Today, stamped trade-silver or German silver pieces linked together in a variety of shapes and patterns, or silver ball & cone earrings, are the norm for most men’s earrings used by straight dancers.
Some examples from the past:
The Watchful Fox – Sauk & Fox – 1847
Sauk & Fox man – 1858
Woman’s Heart – Kiowa – 1867
Sitting In The Saddle – Kiowa – 1867
Kicking Bird – Kiowa – 1868
One Who Strikes The Chiefs First – Pawnee – 1868
White Horse – Pawnee – 1868
Gives To The Poor – Pawnee – 1868
Long Dog – Pawnee – 1868
Wah-Com-Mo – Sauk & Fox – 1868
Medicine Horse – Otoe – 1869
Knife – Iowa – 1869
Kicking Bird – Kiowa – 1870
White Horse – Kiowa – 1870
Bird Chief – Arapaho – 1871
Chewing Elk – Comanche – 1872
Lone Wolf – Kiowa – 1872
Black Dog – Osage – 1876
Black Crow – Ponca – 1877
Standing Bear – Ponca – 1881
Standing Bear – Ponca – 1881
White Swan – Omaha – 1883
Yellow Smoke – Omaha – 1883
Bright Eye – Omaha – 1883
Cannot Do It – Sauk & Fox – 1890
Shining River – Sauk & Fox – 1890
Comanche man – 1892
Ne-kah-ka-lah – Osage – 1893
Tall Chief – Osage – 1894
Prairie Turtle – Otoe – 1894
Bushy Tail – Otoe – 1894
Frank Corndropper, Paul Buffalo, and Pierce St. John – Osage – 1895
Willie Gray Eyes – Sauk & Fox – 1896
Eagle Chief – Pawnee – 1900
Bacon Rind – Osage – 1900
Ma-Chet-Seh – Osage – no date
Man Of Courage – Osage – 1904
Black Dog – Osage – 1904
Little Soldier – Ponca – 1906
Bacon Rind – Osage – 1906
Red Eagle – Osage – 1908
Wolf In The Middle – Southern Cheyenne – 1908
Little Village Maker – Omaha – 1909
Standing Bear – Omaha – 1909
Standing Elk – Ponca – no date
Generous – Osage – 1913
Walking Dog – Osage – 1923
Bailey, Garrick, and Daniel Swan.
2004. Art of the Osage. St. Louis Art Museum, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Callahan, Alice A.
1990. The Osage Ceremonial Dance, I’n-Lon-Schka. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.
1957-a. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1.
1957-b. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 2.
1961. Plains Indian Metalworking, Part Two. American Indian Tradition Newsletter, Volume 8.
Hail, Barbara N.
1980. Hau, Kola!: The Plains Indian Collection of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Brown University, Bristol, RI.
Howard, Dr. James H.
1965. The Ponca Tribe. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 195, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
1976. Ceremonial Dress of the Delaware Man. Special Issue, The Bulletin of the Archeological Society of New Jersey, No. 33, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.
LaFave, Edward J.
1998. Straight Dance Clothing: How to Dress a Straight Dancer. Whispering Wind: American Indian Past & Present Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 4, Folsom, LA.
1982. Straight Dance Clothes: Getting Them On. Moccasin Tracks Magazine, April Issue, LaPalma, CA.
Stewart, Tyronne H.
1968. Dressing a Straight Dancer. The Singing Wire Newsletter, February Issue.
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