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Airdate: Sep 01, 2000
Scientist: Jim Sky

Iroquois: Ceremonies

Iroquois: Ceremonies
Right now, Iroquois people are taking part in the Green Corn ceremony. It 's part of a yearlong cycle of seasonal ceremonies.

Transcript:
ambience: Round dance


That's the sound of a round dance, one of the many social dances of the Iroquois people. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. The robin dance, the duck dance, the alligator, friendship and smoke dances -- those are just a few of some of the many traditional social dances which the Iroquois people do anytime they want to, just for the joy of it.

"And then we have dances that we do when we are giving thanks to the creator, those are special dances. And we do not do them as entertainment."

That's Jim Sky, who for many years led a group of traditional dancers from the Six Nations Iroquois community, in southern Ontario. He's speaking of the ceremonial dances of the Iroquois, which are sacred, and may only be danced at certain times.

"Our ceremonies are usually according to the moon. Like right now green corn ceremony is going on at all the longhouses on our reserve, and all these things happen at certain moons, and we plant at certain moon. And we give thanks for the seeds at a certain moon. Some of our ceremonies begin and end with the shortest days and the longest days of a year. And we don't have a new year and we don't celebrate Christmas. But our people know of Christmas, and for that reason, sometimes if that certain moon for midwinter ceremony becomes close to Christmas, we move it back to the next moon, because they say that the earth is too noisy then. So the creator may not hear us."

Jim Sky passed away recently, but the traditions that he devoted his life to preserving will be celebrated this weekend during the annual Festival at the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.