As my family prepares for the In-Lon-Schka dances this June I am reminded how there is order in our dances. The way we pack our suitcases or trunks with our Osage clothes, we each have a certain way our clothes are laid out. This order is expanded when we place each item on our person to dress for the dance, then walk in line with our district to the arbor. There is order in our seating when we are seated by the Whipman to take our place in the dance, along with all the other dancers. There is an order in the songs sung by the singers so that we may dance together to celebrate our way of life.
Order is important to Wah-Zha-Zhis, and as I attended an Osage naming ceremony this last month in May it gave further evidence of the importance of it. This ceremony has been passed down for generations. It was not from just a couple of centuries but many centuries back when we lived in what is now Missouri and even when we were children of the middle waters.
When I think of the ancient ones performing this ceremony on that morning I am filled with endless gratitude and a feeling of extreme humbleness to carry on the same tradition. I’m sure our ancestors were with us during the ceremony in the early hours of the day and looked down on us with a good feeling that it will be carried on by our children and children’s children.
The naming ceremony within our clan system still works in our tribe and our people that still participate in it have a place in their family, clan and tribe because of these traditions. This brings us order through our clan system and having this place in the clan enables an Osage to participate in our In-Lon-Schka.
Even though the In-Lon-Schka has been around for over a century, our clan system and some of the ceremonies within our clan system have survived for many generations and this has enabled us to keep order in the In-Lon-Schka and to grow for the last century.
We observe a certain order in the way we take care of the drum person. This is the way to do things if you are an Osage. Handed down for many years, these ways are continuing to be observed because of dedication to the structure that the In-Lon-Schka was given to us by the Kaw and Ponca.
All those who participate in the In-Lon-Schka have a heightened sense of belonging, and we feel the presence of family from the ancient times through today’s world. So, as you participate as a dancer, drummer, singer, cook or just enjoy watching someone wearing your ribbonwork, dancing around the drum, close your eyes and feel your ancestors heart beat to the same rhythm of the drum and feel the connection of them smiling on us as we carry on ancient ceremonies as well as new ones that merged with the order of the old. The emotion of music carries us in this beautiful month of June.