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The Gathering of Nations is grateful and honored that Andy Cozad would share this story of the Kiowa Gourd Dance as told by his late father, Leonard Cozad, Sr. Andy tells us:

"Hi Derek. I've finally had gotten an approval from my good friend, Tony Isaacs of Indian House to publish this write up spoken by my late father, Leonard Cozad, Sr's. words taken with notes on June 12, 1975 at Carnegie, Oklahoma. I recall this very moment then when Tony took notes from Dad. This is what's written in the Kiowa Gourd Dance CD's and cassettes in Volumes. 1 and 2. I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time..."

Native American Lakota star The Kiowa Gourd Dance, as told by Leonard Cozad, Sr.Native American Lakota star
on June 12, 1974 Carnegie, Oklahoma.

© Please respect this copyrighted material. It is not to be duplicated for any purpose without explicit written permission from the copyright holder.
      The Kiowa gourd dance is the traditional dance of the “Tdien-pei-gah” warrior society, which is one of the several men’s societies in the Kiowa tribe. Although Tdien-pei-gah distantly refers to words meaning skunkberry and brave, its translation has become obscure over the years, and today it’s specifically the name of this society. The English name of the gourd dance is derived from the special gourd rattles held by the dancers, originally made from rawhide or gourds, but now of saltshakers or small milk cans. Even though these saltshakers have been used in this dance for more than 50 years, they are still called gourds when speaking of them in English.
 

'08 GON Gourd Dance

      The Kiowa's had bands or societies, I don’t know how far back. From what I’ve been told by my elders, they had these dances only once a year in the summertime. In those days we had a Sun Dance—a bigger place to go for all the societies and organizations; and these Sun Dances were put on by different societies, such as the Alto-Yui (Young Colts), Sait-Tine-Dah (the Mustangs), Tdien-Pei-Gah (the Gourd Society), Ton-Kon-Gaht (the Black Leggings Society) and Koe-Sen-Ko (the Elite Warriors). Each of these societies all has their own songs and dances. When they’re going to put up a Sun Dance lodge, each society has a Brush Dance, from the gourd society, Black Leggings on down, except the Elite Warriors, we never heard anything about their songs and dances. But, these others are the ones, the people who have work to do to put up the lodge. When it is all done, that’s when the Sun Dance begins. In the meantime—all these different societies have their own places in the circle – a big circle with the Sun Dance Lodge in the center, and they put on these dances as time goes on.

'08 GON Gourd Dance

      Even though, the last Kiowa Sun Dance was held in 1890 near Carnegie, Oklahoma the gourd dance continued to be held by the original Tdien-Pei-Gah members until 1927, when the last dance was held 3 or 4 miles southeast of Carnegie. After this, most of the old people had died out, and the gourd dance was not held again until Armistice Day in 1946 when it was again performed in Carnegie. There were no formal organization then, as the Tdien-Pei-Gah had disbanded, but in the beginning of September 1956; some of the descendants of the original society members have formed new organizations. and today the century-old warrior dance is held annually for Armed Forces Day and for other occasions. It is not only enjoyed by the Kiowa's, but with many other visiting and neighboring tribes in Oklahoma and surrounding states.

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      “It just like prayer songs, it just makes you happy, and makes people feel good. When we sing these songs, we want to help people who may be in mourning and they want to come back, or they might be sick, or have troubles. When they hear the drum and songs, they want to live – they want to go on to hear these good things among their homes and their children.” 
 

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To see a video of the Gourd Dance from the Gathering of Nations Powwow, please click here for broadband (high speed) or click here for dial-up connection.

Thanks and Credit:
Special thanks to Andy Cozad. Some of this taken from Indian House Recordings KIOWA GOURD DANCE Volumes 1 and 2 On cassette and CD’s, www.indianhouse.com. Photos by Derek Mathews and G.O.N. Web Site staff.

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