Indian Games, Dances & Native Songs - online book

Native American Ceremonials, Sports, and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics & Commentary

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INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES               ioo
Among the Pueblo tribes the articles used in types of this game appear among the paraphernalia on altars prepared for certain ceremonies. From a study of these ceremonies in connection with the myths of the people it seems probable that the hoop used in this game repre­sents the shield of the War God. When the hoop has a netting that fills the center and covers the edges, the netting simulates the magic web of the Spider Woman, a person that frequently figures in the myths and stories of different tribes. Her web generally serves as a pro­tection furnished by her in a conflict.
The netted hoop appears as a decoration upon the interior of pottery bowls formerly made by the Indians of the Southwest. In some of these bowls the netting is dotted with spots. Dr. Culin regards this particular design "as representing the spider web with the dew upon it," and adds: "The 'water shield' [of one of the Zuni War Gods], from which he shook the torrents, was suggested, no doubt, by dew on the web." {Ibid., p. 425.) To one unfamiliar with the Indian's habit of mind it may seem strained to connect the beads of dew on a spider's web with the torrential rain, but to one familiar with native thought as expressed in myths where the Indian has dramatized his conceptions of nature and of natural forces and phenomena, the connection ceases to be strange.
On the Pueblo altars the netted shield is always asso­ciated with arrows, bows or darts. In the various types of this game the arrows, darts, bows, javelins and lances that are associated with the hoop are interchangeable, some tribes using one and other tribes another. Under
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