July 22, 2012

No such thing as rain dances

A Navajo blogger discusses the drought afflicting the US and whether Natives can summon rain.

I Know Why a Rain Dance Won’t End The Drought

By Johnny P. FlynnThe biggest fire in Arizona history is slowly burning itself out and Colorado has seen fires devastate the fringes of urban areas south of Denver.

The American consumer is looking at higher prices as corn crops across the Midwest are dying in the fields. This is the context in which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently said: “I get on my knees every day... and I’m saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it.”

As an American Indian all my life I have been cursed with the myth of the “Indian rain dance.” I am here to say there is no such thing. Not in my Potawatomi tribe or in any other tribe across the Americas.
And:The weather pattern, called the ‘monsoon’ in Arizona, is predictable (monsoon actually comes from the Arabic word for season). Arizona’s monsoon may deposit only a few tenths of an inch of rain, but there may be 2-3 storms a week in the dry summer, just enough to water the corn at a critical time in its growth cycle.

Because the Hopi plant their crops in the mouths of washes, any runoff also waters the crops. For centuries Hopi farming techniques have utilized every drop of moisture and they remain one of the most culturally conservative native groups in the United States.

Every summer the Hopi hold late summer dances—but not to bring the rain. Like the ax in the tree, the rain is coming or not regardless of the ax or the dance. The dances are held to welcome the rain.
Comment:  I wouldn't swear that not a single tribe dances to attract rain. But I'll take Flynn's word for the general rule.

Most tribes don't even have dances related to rain. So projecting the Hopi Snake (Rain) Dance onto 500 tribes is badly stereotypical.

For more on the subject, see Cartoon:  Natives Are the Best Strippers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the Southwest, rain is a miracle. Not so much in (say) Florida, where it ranges from "mundane" to "hurricane".