Books 1983 Omaha Harvest Celebration Pow-Wow Fieldnotes by Carl Fleischhauer
One of the true disappointments of the dim light at night in the arena was the difficulty it presented in photographing the clowns. There were four clowns, who participated in contest of their own on Saturday or Sunday, and who never danced during the daylight hours. I tried to photograph them, but somewhow I could never get my act together with a flashgun and the pictures are likely to be very blurry. One clown had a breechclout marked “B.I.A.” Sometimes, the clowns would violate taboos by dancing in counterclockwise direction. They also wore “wrong” clothing for humorous effect; a parody, as it were, of the traditional dancer's costume.
Dorothy and I estimated that tonight's crowd ran about 300–400 spectators, of whom perhaps 30 were non-Indians, and 150 dancers.
This evening, and regularly for the remainder of the event, “specials” or “honoring dances” (these seem to be similar, yet different, things) were held. Spoken remarks would introduce a person, or category—such as “veterans”—and a dance would ensue in their honor. Sometimes the person honored was deceased and absent, sometimes alive and present. As the dancers circled the arena, people would come forward and press money into the hands of the person honored, or a representative or relative. In cases where individuals were honored, this was followed by a “giveaway,” in which goods were given to friends of the persons involved. Usually these were blankets or shawls. The blankets were Pendletons if possible and, if not, cheap acrylic blankets. The shawls were the sort that the women dancers used. Sometimes cash was given away. These events took some time, but were just as closely watched by the Indian audience as the dancing.
Maria arrived at about 10 pm. She had driven in from Montana. She said that the elder that she had hoped to bring decided not to come. She was amazed and overjoyed to discover the presence of the dance group from San Juan Pueblo, which included some old friends of hers. At about 11:30, Dorothy and I left to go back to the motel in Lyons.
Saturday, August 13
These fieldnotes—like any others I write—tend to be outlines or highlights, and are not exhaustive lists of events and event sequences. As it happens, our recordings for today and tomorrow are complete, and persons who wish to have a detailed description of the arena events should refer to the tapes and their logs. We recorded every official pow-wow event that occurred in the arena, except for giveaways. We recorded the beginning of all giveaways, but usually shut off the recorder as the routine of giving gifts went on (an event that took some time). It is also worth noting that we failed to record two interesting items: the late-night dance on Saturday, and the Sunday morning evangelical church service, which we took to be semi-official at best.
I was to set up our equipment this morning. My main worry was the amount of cable I would need, considering the 100-foot throw required for each mike at the singer's position. I knew I wanted a stereo pair