Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

MOTHER EARTH SPRING DANCE



Pigeon Dance

Equipment---A pile of hemlock twigs about 8 inches long, prepared by the leader, is at one side of the dance circle. The singer at the side of the circle has a gourd rattle and the two women behind the leader wear turtle leg-rattles.

First Movement.---A close single file of men and women circle counterclockwise in a trot behind the leader.

Second Movement---Each dancer takes two hemlock twigs, waving them up and down like pigeons' wings.

Third movement---A man, naked to the waist, his body painted red and his arms brown to represent a pigeon hawk, rushes out from his hiding place at the side of the dance "yard" and charges the line of dancers, "pigeons," cutting it in two. The dancers separate, crying g', g', g', and shouting 'ga' in alarm. The "pigeon hawk" may grab a dancer and carry him or her out of the dance line, as prey.

Fourth movement---The forward portion of the split dance ring continues onward; the rear portion turns and goes back until the two files meet and dance together as at the beginning.

Fifth movement---The pigeon-hawk impersonator again cuts through the line of dancers, after which the dancers throw the hemlock twigs, "wings," on the ground.

In 1933, a Pigeon Dance was observed at Big Cove in which the pigeon-hawk actor carried an empty bag when he charged the dancers, slapping the bag on the ground among them. The "pigeons" did not use the hemlock twigs as wings. The "hawk" repeated his attack six times, circling around the dancers, threatening them before he rushed, and trying to capture any who were separated from the rest.

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