Author: Jonathan Holmes

Fur Turban Of Southern Plains

There are many old photographs of certain Omaha-Ponca Hethuska or Osage Inlonshka members wearing a turban of otter fur, or a turban of red fox fur. Dr. James Howard states, “The otterskin hat, rather than the war bonnet, was the ‘chief’s’ headdress, while a similar headdress of fox fur marked...

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Ponca Hethuska Society

Ponca Hethuska Society by Jonathan Holmes The following are some of the written and oral traditions that I have researched concerning the origins and history of the Ponca Hethuska Society. Since I recognize that there are some who may have information that is different in some way, I welcome and...

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Tail Sticks and Tail Dancers

Before the forced removal of the Ponca to Oklahoma Territory in 1877, appointed Tail Dancers among the Hethuska Society would carry the long-shafted, crook-ended Society Coup Sticks in battle and at Society Dance Ceremonies. When the Hethuska Society would go out as a group to fight their enemies, the two...

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Straight Dance Ribbonshirts

Usually a loose fitting, wide-sleeved shirt is worn with straight dance clothes, although I've witnessed on more than one occasion, straight dancers in traditional Comanche style clothes, without a shirt. Derived from shirts worn by early Europeans in the early 19th century, Ponca, Omaha, Pawnee and Osage straight dancers would...

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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...

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Roach Feather

Attached in the socket-like cylinder of the roach spreader, a single golden eagle tail feather is often times referred to as the roach feather. For many dancers today, commercially available hand-painted imitation eagle feathers are used as the roach feather. The tail feather is attached in such a way as...

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Tail Feather Fans

In the late 1800s, Ponca, Omaha, and Osage, as well as straight dancers from other Southern Plains tribes, could be seen in old photos, (see examples below) carrying a feather fan made from the complete tail of a golden eagle, with the tanned body-skin and feathers, and the head, hanging...

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Straight Dancer Bandoliers

Bandoliers are an essential component for straight dancers. The pair of bandoliers are most often strings of large trade beads with leather spacers, worn in a loop which extends from each shoulder to the opposite hip. Each bandolier consists of one to three strings of brass, silver or glass trade...

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Whips and Whipmen

Whips and Whipmen By Jonathan Holmes At many of today’s Northern and Southern Plains pow-wows and ceremonial dances, the male dancer with the title of Whipman plays an important role with a long tradition. In the Northern Plains, the Whipman is usually an exceptional dancer appointed to encourage dancers to...

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A Brief History of the Ponca People

A Brief History of the Ponca People By Jonathan Holmes Traditions common to the Ponca, Omaha, Kansas, Osage and Quapaw give evidence that they were once a people living as a single group in the Northern Kentucky, Southern Ohio and Southern Indiana area along the Ohio River, and may have...

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