Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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Dancing Counter-Clockwise

Stomping a counter-clockwise circle dance keeps Bear dancing the same way. Counter-clockwise spiral also means UP R [upriver] ascending -- connection between earth (people) & Great Bear in the Sky who controls the seasons.

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Cow Creeks told me a story of what happened at one of the pow wows. They were dancing a circle dance, going the usual pan-Indian direction: clockwise. Then an old blind woman asked if she could lead the next dance. Everyone agreed. But when she started the dance, she went the opposite way: counter-clockwise. A few Cow Creeks protested, but the old woman said that counter-clockwise was the old way, the direction the Indians used to dance in the Old Time. She said she was very old & she knew -- she could remember dancing that direction herself when she was a little girl. She told the protesting Indians that if they knew anything they ought to know which way to dance. So they threw a shawl over the old woman's shoulders & followed her lead.

3/10/2019: I heard this story at South Umpqua Falls in the mid-1980s, told around Chuck Jackson's family fire at the Cow Creek pow wow.

Related Pages

  • Mythology of Bear – Great Bear in the Sky -- the Big Dipper -- circles the seasons with his dance. Includes drawings as well as photos of the Bear Rock on Lower Table Rock.
  • Following Mister Bear – Doty and Coyote follow Bear into Oregon Caves and discover a magical world of timeless voices and ancient stories. Includes drawings.
  • Which Way to Dance – Native people dance their circle dances different directions for different reasons.