Books 1983 Omaha Harvest Celebration Pow-Wow Fieldnotes by Dorothy Sara Lee
At a cluster of tables near the main arena, we came upon Dennis Hastings and Roger Welsch, who introduced me to John Carter and Ann Billesbach of the Willa Cather Museum —Carl had greeted everyone earlier that afternoon. Dennis then took Carl and me up to the speaker's stand on the western side of the main arena for an introduction to Clifford Wolfe, Sr., Master of Ceremonies for the event. We declined Mr. Wolfe's invitation to address the crowd at this time, preferring to wait until Saturday's official presentation of the cylinders. We met several members of the Pow-wow committee: Ida Anderson, treasurer; Elsie Harlan, public relations coordinator; and Clifford Wolfe, Jr., Vice Chairman, who acted as assistant Master of Ceremonies. We met Gayle Cable, a member of the Oklahoma Comanche nation who had married into the Omaha tribe and at one point during the afternoon we were introduced to K. D. Edwards who was interested in our recording arrangments, and who gave me a copy of Indian Chipmunks.
Although we chatted with several individuals who visited the speaker's stand from time to time, there was not much opportunity to talk to pow-wow officials. General or intertribal dances were still going on while we made our introductions, and close to the end of the afternoon session, there was a special honoring song for all veterans, during which most of men on the speaker's platform danced. At the beginning of the dance, several men danced out from the sides of the dance ground in a gradual clockwise spiral towards the singers. They were joined by individuals or small clusters during the course of the dance, who took care to fall behind the first row of dancers—Dennis joined the group, as did several women. The dancers formed small lines of between two and ten, rather like spokes of a wheel, radiating out from the center and moving in uniform, but not unison motion. The dance movements were at once similar and idiosyncratic. Most individuals used a basic walking step; knees slightly bent, shifting the weight from one hip to the other as alternate legs moved forward. In this basic step, it seemed, the feet remained close to the ground and the movements were small. Several men used a more vigorous double step in which they placed each foot down twice, the first time lightly, the second with more emphasis. The men kept their arms and shoulders relatively still while they danced. Women dancers draped dance shawls around their shoulders and arms and held the shawls in place by tucking their hands underneath the inside edges. The shawl seemed to constrain and define the upper torso movements of the women—with their hands positioned at waist level, the only visible upper torso movement was a very slight rotation of the shoulders.
The flag was lowered after the honoring song, and all the participants danced out of the arena. People had been moving towards the small arena for supper before the last dance was over, and by the time we arrived, the food lines were quite long. Supper consisted of boiled pork, baked beans, fry bread, cucumber, pickles, iced tea, coffee, and pie. We sat with Roger, John, Ann, and the two-man television crew filming for CBS: Ed Matney and Gary Tassone.
Judith Gray had sent along with Carl a cassette copy of Omaha and Winnebago cylinders recorded by Charles Wakefield Cadman in 1909. I showed the documentation to Dennis who was particularly pleased by the flute songs. He explained that although John Turner had been the