|Caddo Turkey Dance (Public Domain)|
Wikipedia tells us that the Caddo Nation "is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes, who traditionally inhabited much of what is now East Texas, northern Louisiana and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma." Today's federally-recognized Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is based in Binger. A number of current initiatives - such as the Hasinai Society, the Caddo Culture Club, and the Kiwat Hasinay Foundation – are dedicated to keeping the Caddo language, songs and dances alive.
The most famous of the Caddo dances is the Turkey Dance. Indian Country Today states that this dance continues to thrive, even away from intertribal gatherings and competitions. In her article "The Life & Times of the Turkey Dance," Autumn Whitefield-Madrano explains that the opening words of the accompanying
lyrics typically go like this: Come on, you turkeys, come together – we're going to dance.
And come together they do! During the hot dusty Binger summers, "there's a turkey dance anytime somebody says we're going to have adance." These modern-day dances retain many elements of the historical ones. The Turkey Dance is still the first one done at any Caddo dance gathering, and it still must be finished before sundown (nowadays because that's when turkeys roost – and in the past because the reflection of shiny dance costumes via an evening fire could potentially reveal the tribe's location to its enemies).
The Caddo Turkey Dance is integrally tied to a strong sense of community. Caddo historian Cecile Carter affirms: The dance gives us a feeling of unity for your family, your family's family, for the entire family of Caddo people.
Copyright November 22, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved