The Women's Dance

Taken from a manuscript prepared by J.P. Evans in 1835


When the hour of dancing arrives, an old man, generally the eldest in a clan or town, commences singing a dirge-like air, and beating on a skin stretched over the end of a keg. Like all Cherokee air, it does not possess much variety; some parts, however, are a little touching, and add somewhat to the gloomy feelings produced by surrounding objects, on the mind of one accustomed to civilized society. Before the old man has spent much time tuning his pipes, two or three women came forward, with terrapin shells on their legs, and keep time by stamping, moving around the fire with peculiar facility, and apparent ease; in a short time most of the women present, join in the dance. This ceremony is continued as long as the whim of the old man prompts him to sing. After resting ahalf hour, the singing is commenced again, by the same or another old man, and the dancers again enter the lsits. The night is generally wound up with a common dance.