Men's leader Gifferd Osborne at the annual Warbonnet Dance on December 31.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — After a three year break because of the Covid pandemic, the annual Warbonnet Dance returned December 31, 2022 as fresh air was breathed into eagle feathers at Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School.
Counseling and Family Services sponsored the feast that began the activities and interim manager Annie Bacon said the program wanted to give back to Gifferd Osborne for his help with the quarterly prayer/smudges. CFS cooked all the salads, fry bread (Glenda Marshall’s) and meats, except for the deer meat.
Afterward 49 songs were sung around the gym. Intertribal dances, along with round and owl dances were done.
Ceremonial dances including the shake, buffalo and feast were conducted. Gifferd Osborne said a couple of young men were invited to learn – Leo Eaglespeaker and James Osborne as they joined him and James Tone in the chokecherry dance.
Women's leader Kimberly Nummie Osborne (right) leads women in warbonnets.
LaGrand Coby said concerning the ceremonial dances the shake dance resembles the prairie chicken, the bird with two legs, the buffalo dance four legs and the last one for the chokecherries, “A prayer I was always told.” He said they used to do them during Easter so he and Gifferd are planning to do them on Easter at Buffalo Lodge. He said it’s a good place to do it because it’s round. He explained he used to follow Leonard Edmo a long time ago – there used to be a lot of dancers – a lot of men dancers. LaGrand said he remembered his outfit. He also recognized Lionel Boyer when he danced. He recalled when he used to dance. He said it’s good these young men are doing this now. He also acknowledge the singers including his sons Chasen and Keno who’ve learned the songs. He thanked everyone for coming out and helping with good prayers and thoughts.
Miss Shoshone-Bannock Kaycee Dixey said she’s not present because she is Miss Sho-Ban, it’s because she’s been coming to the ceremony since she was little and her grandparents instilled in her that’s who we are as Shoshone-Bannocks — it’s important to her. She encouraged people to take care of one another and their elders. She acknowledged Darla Morgan for making the chokecherry pudding that was used in the dance and also her grandmother Louise E. Dixey for also making some to distribute to those in attendance. Kaycee wished everyone a Happy New Year.
Start of the feast dance.
The Warbonnet Dance commenced where various families brought out 19 bonnets to be aired and blessed as the men danced first with the bonnets on then the women’s song was sung with the women dancing next around the gym.
Gifferd is the men’s leader and he previously explained the dance began back in the late 50s or early 60s as his grandfather Leonard Edmo (now deceased) brought it over from Wyoming via Alfred Nagitsy and Sam Deepwater. Leonard was the men’s leader and Phoebe Ponzo was the women’s leader. After Phoebe, Norma Edmo Osborne resumed the women’s leader position after Ponzo then she handed it down to her daughter Kimberly Nummie Osborne.
The dance’s significance is about prayers as the feathers are aired once a year. It was noted a woman is not to touch them during the dance but have the bonnets placed on their head from the male dancer. It’s done on New Year’s Eve to dance out the old year and bring the New Year in.
49 singing prior to the annual Warbonnet Dance.
Lionel Boyer said the bonnet dance is one of the traditional ceremonies of our people and it’s the only time women dance with a bonnet. It’s a tradition, passed on from the elders. He encouraged people to learn the traditional language because we are losing it fast. He thanked those involved for carrying on the dance and for everyone that was present.
After the Warbonnet Dance those that remained round danced into the New Year.