Bear Dance

Bear Dance is a Native American ceremonial dance that occurs in the spring. It is a ten-day event to strengthen social ties within the community, encourage courtship, and mark the end of puberty for girls.[1]

For the Utes, it is a ten-day event of dancing, feasting, games, horse racing, and gambling. It is one of the oldest Ute ceremonies. The bear symbolizes leadership, strength, and wisdom. A group of men have played musical rasps for the dance.[1]


Reason For The Bear Dance

The bear dance is performed by the Ute Indians after the first sound of thunder is heard as spring comes.[2] This tradition began in the fifteenth century taught to humans by bears.[3] The primal ancestor of the Ute Indians are believed by themselves to be bears.[4] The reason for this dance was to help wake up the hibernating bears in winter, and the Indians from being inside during the cold season. Along with waking up for winter finding a new mate for the new season is another reason this dance is performed by bears, and humans.[5] Men, women, and children are involved in this yearly dance. For this dance the men are to prepare everything for the performance. During the dance women invite men to dance in order to find a mate, and dance together.[6]

References

  1. Pritzker, Barry (2000). "Utes". A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford University Press. pp. 242–246. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.
  2. Traditional Ute Bear Dance | We Shall Remain: A Native History of Utah, retrieved 2019-10-30
  3. "Bear Dance – Southern Ute Indian Tribe". www.southernute-nsn.gov. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  4. Reed, Verner Z. (1896). "The Ute Bear Dance". American Anthropologist. 9 (7): 237–244. ISSN 0002-7294.
  5. Reed, Verner Z. (1896). "The Ute Bear Dance". American Anthropologist. 9 (7): 237–244. ISSN 0002-7294.
  6. Traditional Ute Bear Dance | We Shall Remain: A Native History of Utah, retrieved 2019-10-30


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