Seneca Social Dance Music

From Allegany Reservation, Cattaraugus County, New York, 1977-1980

Recorded and Annotated by Mary Frances Riemer


The Seneca (?anotowt?ka, "people of the big hill") were the largest of the original five tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy founded during the sixteenth century. The Confederacy, which occupied most of present-day upper New York State, also included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga tribes. After 1715, the Tuscaroras were admitted as the sixth nation and given a portion of the Oneida territory. As the most western of the Iroquois, the Senecas were designated as the Keepers of the Western Door. Today the Senecas of New York State live on three reservations: Tonawanda, Cattaraugus, and Allegany, each named for the streams along which they are located.

The Allegany Reservation, home of the Seneca singers recorded on this album, stretches for forty-two miles along the Allegheny River (?ohi:yoi, literally "beautiful river"). Located in Cattaraugus County in the southwestern corner of New York State, the reservation lies in a beautiful region of thickly forested hills and valleys.

This land, which included 30,469 acres, was granted to the Senecas under the Pickering Treaty of 1794. Signed by George Washington, it was the first treaty made by the United States as a nation and guaranteed that "the U.S. will never claim the same, nor disturb the Seneka Nation . . . in the free use and enjoyment thereof." During the nineteenth century, with help from the Society of Friends, the Senecas became farmers, laborers, and businessmen and established their own republican government in 1848, complete with elected president, legislative council, and judiciary. (Only the Allegany and Cattaraugus Senecas are included in the Seneca Nation; the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians remains a separate political entity.) The Senecas of Allegany also leased land of their reservation for railways,
highways, and towns occupied mostly by Whites. Salamanca, with a population of approximately 7,500 is the largest of these.

In 1941, despite the assurances of the Pickering Treaty, the Senecas found their reservation lands threatened by plans, that had already been authorized by Congress, to build a dam at Kinzua, fifteen miles south of the Allegany Reservation in Pennsylvania. The stated purpose of the Kinzua Dam project was flood control on the Allegheny River but other writers have also pointed to the use of reservoir water for the Pittsburgh steel mills (Fenton 1967:7; Wilson 1959:195). Although the Senecas carried the issue to the Supreme Court, the power of Congress to condemn the land required for the project was upheld in 1959. Construction by the Army Corps of Engineers began almost immediately and by 1965 the dam was complete. The project flooded over 9000 acres of the best bottom lands (almost one-third of the reservation), caused the dispossession of one hundred and thirty Seneca families from their homes at Red House, Coldspring, Quaker Bridge, and Onoville, and forced the removal of the Longhouse from Coldspring to Steanburg. The Seneca Nation, again with assistance from Quakers, fought for compensation for their lands and homes lost to the reservoir. A total of $15,000,573. was appropriated by Congress "to provide for the relocation, rehabilitation, social, and economic development of the members of the Seneca Nation." Part of this money was used to create the two new suburban-like developments of Jimersontown and Steamberg, ten miles apart, and the displaced Seneca families were relocated to ranch-type homes on three-acre plots at these settlements. Improvements such as community buildings, the newly-opened Iroquois museum, and library have also come from the relocation fund. It has now been fifteen years since the dam was closed but the general sentiment among the Senecas, that no amount of compensation can replace their flooded lands, still remains.

THE SINGERS: Avery and Fidelia Jimerson

Avery and Fidelia Jimerson, who had lived and raised their family at Quaker Bridge, were among the Seneca families relocated to Jimersontown in 1965. For the next twelve years they lived in the modern three bedroom ranch-type house built for them by the Seneca Nation. By 1977, however, they had left Jimersontown and moved ten miles back down the river in order to recover their former life-style, with its quietness and privacy, and to be nearer to the Coldspring Longhouse, the center of their social and religious activities. They now live in a home, built by themselves, on part of the reservation known as Highbanks which overlooks the reservoir. Here, Avery has peace and solitude to compose his songs and to carve the traditional Seneca false-face masks for which he is noted.

Avery Jimerson (sie go?, "drifting") of the bear clan comes from a family of artists. His father was a famous ritualist and he and his four sons all were mask carvers. Avery learned to sing by listening to his father and by accompanying him to Longhouse ceremonies and socials. By the time he was sixteen he was sitting with the men on the singers' benches learning the rich and varied repertoire of Seneca social dance songs. By thirty-five he considered himself a singer and began composing his own songs. Of these younger days, Avery says: "Well, I would be out hunting in the woods where it was so peaceful and quiet that a song would just come to me and I would start to sing. Of course the animals knew right away where I was. Wasn't much of a hunter, I guess."

Although all of the Seneca ceremonial and ritual music is traditional and fixed, some of the social music, especially for the Women's Shuffle, the Moccasin, and Stomp dances, allows for conscious composition. Since the early 1960s, songs for the Rabbit and Round dances have reached the Allegany Reservation from the West and these also are being newly-composed and adapted to the Seneca singing style. The majority of Avery's compositions, consequently, are Women's Shuffle (also called Ladies') dance and Rabbit dance songs. At a social dance Avery will sing at least one set of his own songs (see under "Music: General Characteristics"), as well as several sets of traditional Seneca music.

On many of the Iroquois reservations there have always been groups known as mutual aid and singing societies organized by men who meet once a week in private homes to exchange songs and sing for enjoyment. In the past Avery has been a member and, from 1969 to 1970, was president of the Allegany Singing Society. Other members of the group included Herb Dowdy, Richard Johnny John, Bobby Thompson, the sisters Maureen, Kathy, and Amy Redeye, Ernie and Sally Crowe, Corinne Redeye, Paul and Mamie Jones, and Alvina Cooper, all singers or composers with fine reputations. During the 1970s another group, calling itself the Allegany Independent Singers, operated as a mutual aid society and often traveled to other reservations to participate in singouts and pow-wows. It was during his membership in these two societies that Avery composed most of his songs.

Exchange of music between reservations also occurs annually at the Six Nations meetings of Handsome Lake's followers, the keepers of the Longhouse religion. These gatherings provide an impetus for new camposition for, as Avery puts it, "you've (i.e., the society) got to have new songs. Can't just sing the same old ones every year."

Although all social dance singing at public events has traditionally been done by men, women have usually participated during "sings" at private homes. At Allegany, in 1966, a woman's singing society was formed, led by Mamie Jones, and met once a week at each other's homes in Jimersontown and Steamburg for practice sessions. Fidelia Jimerson (dza we:o di, "behind the flower") of the turtle clan was a member of this group and has a remarkable repertoire of social songs to draw upon when singing with her husband. In addition to her singing ability, Fidelia is a fine and
enthusiastic social dancer.

Both Fidelia and Avery are in their sixties and now retired, but by no means inactive. After spending most of their adult years in "White" occupations (Avery worked for thirty years with the Erie/Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York State Department of Highways), they now teach courses at the Salamanca High School in association with the Seneca Bilingual Education Program. Avery offers courses in traditional singing and dancing and Fidelia, the crafts of beadwork and costuming, to Seneca students. The Seneca Youth Dancers (formed in 1976) are an outgrowth of these school activities and in the past four years the group has toured and performed at various universities and museums in the East.

1. Occasion

The Senecas possess an extraordinary amount of music associated with their Longhouse religion. The followers of Handsome Lake perform a cylindrical cycle of Thanksgiving ceremonies in which they sing and dance rituals addressed to the Creator and to the Food Spirits. The numerous medicine societies also have their own ritual songs, However, all of this ceremonial music is held sacred by the Longhouse faithful and, in complying with the Jimersons' wishes that this music not be "let out", it has not been recorded. Social dance music, while still associated with the Longhouse is much more in the public and secular sphere and is for everyone's enjoyment. Thus, they have sung their best songs for this album.

Occasions for social dance music are numerous. During ceremonials such as the Green Corn and the Midwinter which last several days, social dances may be held at the Longhouse in the evening. Prior to the moving of the Coldspring Longhouse in 1965, "socials", with music and dancing, were held there every Sunday evening. A dinner was given beforehand and the evening's proceeds used for Longhouse needs. Today socials are occasionally given at the new gymnasium (part of the community building) at Steamburg, but it is not considered a good space for singing and, consequently, there is no social dancing. Parties, formmerly held in the Cookhouse next to the old Coldspring Longhouse to honor a person on a particular occasion, provide further opportunities for social dancing. "Sings" at private homes feature social dance music but no dancing, and are usually associated with meetings of the Singing Society. Finally, replacing the old Sunday evening socials of the Longhouse are "singouts", usually held on the weekends of major Christian holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, or national holidays such as the fourth of July. Not associated with the Longhouse, they are now held in the community building at Steamburg and are sponsored by the Singing Society which tries to have new songs for the event

2. General Characteristics

Although individual features of each social dance song recorded for the album will be discussed below, a few general comments might be useful in presenting an overall picture of Seneca music.

The Senecas share a musical style which is common to all the Indian tribes of the Eastern Woodlands. Their songs are relatively short - some are as brief as fifteen seconds but usually they will last about one to one and a half minutes. Songs (usually about seven) of a similar genre are often sung consecutively, with little pause between each, thus forming a "set" or "cycle". This is true of all the traditional Seneca social dance songs recorded for this album although, because of time restrictions, only the Ladies' Dance set is given in its entirety. For some of the newer imported songs, singers do not generally possess a large enough repertoire to enable them to sing as many as seven but, since these non-Seneca songs tend to be longer, the end result is a set of appropriate length.

The melodies of these songs generally have an undulating contour but with slightly more descent than ascent overall. Iroquois scales are mainly pentatonic (i.e., five tones); major seconds and minor thirds are the most important intervals. Octave leaps air fairly frequent, especially in the new Ladies' Dance songs (Side II, Band 1) where they begin the songs.

Songs usually have a range of one octave, with the tonic (or base tone) often being the lowest, or next to lowest, tone of the scale. Other notes that receive special emphasis are the fifth, third, and octave above the base tone. Rhythmic organization is relatively symmetrical and simple, with two or three note values per song being most commonly used. Other rhythmic figures are occasionally introduced for interest and variety. Rhythmic accompaniment, provided by the water drum and various types of rattles (see below), is most often a simple duple beat which coincides with the basic pulse of the melody. Tremolo effects are also produced on the drum and rattle. In the dance songs, alterations in rhythmic accompaniment signal choreographic changes in the dance.

The structure of individual songs can be fairly complex. Each song is composed of several short sections which can be ordered and repeated in various combinations. A formula commonly used is AABAB. As mentioned earlier, songs are grouped together to form a set or cycle.

Song structure becomes further involved through the use of an antiphonal (or call-and-response) technique which is a distinctive feature of Eastern musical style. This type of singing requires either two individuals or, more commonly, a leader plus group. The leader begins by singing a single phrase, which is then repeated (possibly with minor variation) by the group. The call-and-response pattern occurs at beginnings and endings of many songs and is the sole structural device of the Stomp Dance (see Side 1, Band 1).

Iroquois vocal technique has several of the features generally associated with Indian singing style: a moderate amount of tension in the throat, pulsation on sustained notes, downward glides, and grace notes.

The majority of social dance songs have meaningless syllable (vocable) texts; however, the vocables used in any given song are fixed and are repeated the same way each time the song is performed. (This is not the case with the religious songs which often contain meaningful texts in the form of prayers and thanksgivings.) All of the songs recorded for this album, except for one Ladies' Dance song, have vocable texts. The vocables are usually set syllabically; i.e., one vocable is sung to one note. (See, for example, the Old Moccasin Dance, Side I, Band 2). Meaningful texts, when they occur in social dance music, are found most often in the newly composed Ladies' Dance songs and, within the song set, in the initial and the final songs.

3. Instruments

The only instruments used to accompany the social dances are the water drum (ka?nohko:jh, literally "covered keg") and cowhorn rattle (?ono'?ki:? kast'awe?sa?), although there are several others with specific functions in Longhouse rituals. (For a comprehensive discussion of Seneca "singing tools" see Conklin/Sturtevant 1953).

The water drum is a small round wooden vessel about five to six inches in diameter, covered with a soft-tanned hide stretched and held in place by a cloth-wrapped wooden hoop. Water is introduced into the drum through a hole in its side and before playing the head is thoroughly soaked and tightened until the characteristic high "pinging" sound is obtained. The player holds the drum in his left hand and strikes the drum skin with a small wooden beater.

The cowhorn rattle is made from a conical piece of cowhorn mounted on a wooden handle. The horn contains steel pellets and is closed at the top with a wooden plug. Its overall length is usually about nine to twelve inches. Only one water drum is used at a social dance and is played by the lead singer. His assistants each shake a cowhorn rattle.


An enumeration of the various types of social dance currently performed on the Allegany Reservation presents one with a complicated list of names and associations. In the past, writers on Iroquois music (see Kurath 1951, 1964, 1968) have organized the traditional Seneca dances according to the two basic dance steps used: the stomp-type and fish-type. This grouping remains useful and workable if, added to it, are the shuffle step of the new Ladies' Dance and the numerous imported dances that have reached Allegany over the past twenty years.

The stomp-type (ka?da:syo:tkha?) of social dance involves a simple forward trotting step in which the right foot shuffles forward and the left is brought up to meet it. This is the most recurrent step in Iroquois social dancing and is performed by both men and women. The social dances using this step include:

1. Trotting Dance (ka?da:syo:t) - also called Standing Quiver or Stomp
Dance, is the paradigm of stomp-type dances. See further description
below, Side I, Band 1.
2. Corn Dance (?on'tol ?oeno?).
3. Bean Dance (teyatene'shotha) also called Hand-in-Hand or Linking-Arms
4. Squash Dance (kash'e?tota:?t3h) - also called Shaking-the-Pumpkin or
The Corn, Bean, and Squash are essentially Food Spirit dances performed
at the food-spirit festivals and, therefore, belong more in the
religious sphere. Only the Corn Dance appears on social dance programs
at Allegany.
5. Pidgeon Dance (ja:hko:wa:? ?oens?).
6. Duck Dance (so:wak ?ocns?).
7. Robin Dance (ty':yaik ?ocno7) - see further description below, Side I,
Band 3.
The Pidgeon, Duck, and Robin dances possibly were part of a former
spring ritual giving thanks for the return of wild birds. All are
performed as social dances at Allegany.
8. Alligator Dance (teka?no:to:t ?oens?) - see further description below,
Side I, Band 6.
9. Fishing Dance (?oshé:we?) - stomp dance, not to be confused with the
Fish Dance which uses the fish-type step.
10. Garters Dance (tewatsihasy0?o:?).
11. Shaking-the-Bush (kaskoe'otetoh) - also called Naked Dance. This is
danced with a variation of the stomp-type step. See further descrip-
tion below, Side I, Band 4.

The fish-type (kej3 ?oen3 7 kha:?) of social dance is often compared to the Charleston but the Seneca version, being centuries old, obviously predates it. The sequence of the fairly complicated fish step is: start with both feet turned out, right foot slightly in front. With a sharp movement, turn both feet in, the right foot brushing to the side. Both feet are now turned in, with the right foot slightly behind. With another sharp movement, turn both feet out, the left foot brushing to the side but remaining in front of right. From this position the sequence is repeated with the left foot stepping backwards.

Although not as ubiquitous as the stomp, the fish step (also danced by both men and women) is used in several dances:

1. Old Moccasin Dance (kayo:waka:yoh) - also called the Fish Dance, is
the paradigm of fish-type dances. See further description below,
Side I, Band 2.
2. Raccoon Dance (jo a:ka? otno?) - see further description below,
Side 1, Band 5.
3. Sharpening-the-Stick (wa?inothi:yo?).
4. Choose-a-Partner (tyatatenayatka:s).
5. Chicken Dance (taka:?c:? ?oeno?).
This dance includes both the fish-type and the women's shuffle step ('e:ska:nye:?) which is used, in social dancing, only here and in the women's Shuffle (or Ladies') Dance. As the name implies, it is only danced by women. The step is essentially a shuffling twist of the feet. With feet together, put weight on the balls of feet, raise heels slightly, and twist them to the right. Heels should hit the floor on the beat. With feet still together and weight on the heels, raise toes and twist them to the right. Front of feet should hit the floor on the beat. Repeat whole sequence and continue moving to the right. On each beat, the knees flex to give the body a slight bouncing movement.

The typical Seneca social dance is performed in a counterclockwise circle, single or double file, around a centrally-located singers' bench. (If there are several singers, two benches are used and the singers sit facing each other). Men usually start the dance and, after two or three songs, the women join, placing themselves at the end of the line or alternating with the men, depending upon the dance. In double-file dances (e.g., the Duck Dance), the pairs are composed of two women or two men. The pairing of dancers of opposite sex, linking arms, or holding hands are features of the imported dances and, at Allegany, were resisted on moral grounds and were slow to gain acceptance.

Imported dances, introduced to Allegany over the past twenty years, include:

1. Cherokee Stomp Lance (?oyataoka:a?) - also called Snake Dance. The
step is essentially like the Seneca Stomp Dance but ends with the single
file of dancers following a serpentine line and closing into a spiral.
2. Delaware Feather Dance - also called the Delaware Stick, or Skin
Beating Dance (kanestlka:?e:?). For the slow introductory songs, the
stomp step is used. With the increase of tempo, experimental and
improvised steps air performed, as the dance is still new and the form
not yet fixed.
3. Friendship Dance.
4. Two-Step Dance. The Friendship and two-Step are examples of pan-Indian
dances that are beginning to arrive at Allegany.
5. Round Dance (tyantwatashe?tha?) – see further description below, Side II,
Band 3.
6. Rabbit Dance (kwa7yo:? ?oeno?) – see further description below, Side II,
Band 2.
7. Eskimo Dance (towe?keya?) - also called Cold Dance, Dance of the North,
Mohawk Dance.
8. Smoke Dance. See further description below, Side I, Band 7.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



Trotting Or Stomp Dance 1 Side I of this record contains traditional Seneca social dance songs performed by Avery and Fidelia Jimerson; Side II, recordings of new compositions by Avery Jimerson (with the exception of one Round Dance song). On Side II the Ladies' Dances are performed by the Allegany Singing Society, the Rabbit and Round Dances by the Jimersons, and the last two songs by Avery Jimerson, solo.

The widespread stomp dance, with possible origins in the Southeast among the Creek and Seminole, is danced today not only by the Iroquois in the Northeast but also by tribes around the Western Great Lakes and in the Plains region (Kurath 1956a).

At Allegany it invariably opens an evening of social dancing. The dance is led by the head singer and his helper who sing an introductory song on one tone while the men assemble behind them. All of the songs are responsorial and the text is composed of vocables. No instruments are used, the percussive effect being derived solely from the unison stomping of feet. With the second more melodic song the dance starts, the men leading off single-file in a counterclockwise circle around the singers' bench. Women soon Join the dance by interspersing themselves in the line. From the introductory sang on the monotone, the melodic range expands and the songs gradually increase in rhythmic and melodic complexity. To assist in following the first song, the vocables are given below (the assistant's responses are in brackets):
yo hyo-
ya ho (heh) - 6 times
wei ha (wei ha) - 5 times
ha heh (ha heh) - 4 times
a a (a a) - 4 times
wei hei ya (wei hei ya) - 5 times
we a a (we a a)- 2 times
we a a - 6 times
we hi yo - 2 times
we hi yo (we hi yo) - 2 times
Trotting Or Stomp Dance 2 Seneca
Trotting Or Stomp Dance 3 Seneca
Trotting Or Stomp Dance 4 Seneca
Trotting Or Stomp Dance 5 Seneca
Old Moccasin Dance 1 Usually the second number at a social, the Old Moccasin (or Fish) Dance, is a paradigm of the fish-type dance. It is performed by alternate pairs of women and men in single file moving in a counterclockwise circle around the Singers' bench. All dancers face forwards; formerly, however, the lead dancer of each pair faced his/her partner and moved backwards. (This is still done for show dances).

The songs are accompanied by water drum and cowhorn rattles and the dancers are cued by changing rhythmic patterns to perform different steps. Throughout the dance specific steps and positions parallel the AAAABBAAB structure of the song. The set begins with all dancers walking to a half-time beat. (See Song 2b, section A). When the water drum begins a steady duple rhythm. (on repeat of section A), the dancers perform the pat-step; i.e., pat-step right foot, pat-step left foot. At section B, the lead dancer of each pair turns around and dances the fish step with his/her partner. The whole song now repeats with the drum and rattle beating a half-time rhythm (section A). This is the signal for the partners to change places with a light walking step. For section B, the dancer's are face to face for the fish step. During the next song the partners will cross over at the appropriate point and return to their original positions.
Old Moccasin Dance 2 Seneca
Old Moccasin Dance 3 Seneca
Old Moccasin Dance 4 Seneca
Robin Dance 1 The Robin Dance belongs to the stomp-type group of dances and is led by the head singer and his assistant dancing single file in a counterclockwise circle. The men are in the front of the line, the women in the rear. The only accompaniment is provided by two cowhorn rattles. The other percussive sound heard on the recording is the thumping of the singers' heels.

The song begins in typical fashion with the leader singing the melody through once and, on the repetition, being joined by his assistant. The dancers proceed with a forward stomp and, on the first tremolo shakes of the rattles, turn to face inwards, continuing to dance a flat-footed one-two side step (i.e., a sideways stomp to the right). At the second tremolo signal, the dancers make three little hops (imitation of a robin), turning to face outwards. The dance continues with a sideways stomp to the left. Between songs the dancers simply walk forward. For the next song, the
directions of the turns are reversed.
Robin Dance 2 Seneca
Robin Dance 3 Seneca
Shaking-the-Bush 1 This dance has been out of fashion at Allegany for some time and is rarely performed. At first the songs themselves proved elusive to the singers, an example of the manner in which a singer's repertoire changes with the popularity of dances.

Shaking-the-Bush is sung to the accompaniment of water drum and cowhorn rattles. The women begin by forming two lines, standing in place to sing slow introductory songs (not recorded here). As the duple-beat rhythm commences, all stomp forwards in a counterclockwise circle. A variation of the stomp, called "hop-kick", is also occasionally done: step on right foot, hop on right while licking left forward; step on left foot, hop on left while kicking right forward. With the half-time beat from the drum and rattle the first two women face backwards to pair with the women behind. At the mid-point of the dance (i.e., as the song is repeated) the pairs exchange places as in the Old Moccasin Dance. All stomp forwards again. Soon pairs of men intersperse with the women and become their partners.
Shaking-the-Bush 2 Seneca
Shaking-the-Bush 3 Seneca
Raccoon Dance 1 The Raccoon Dance uses both the flat-footed stomp (or step-kick) and the fish step but since its pattern of stomp and crossovers resembles the Old Moccasin Dance, it is classified as a fish-type dance here. The slow introductory chant (song 1), accompanied by a tremolo on the water drum, assembles paired men in single file. With the increase in tempo and commencement of a steady duple beat, the men stomp or step-kick in a counterclockwise circle. Women (in pairs) soon join the dance and intersperse themselves between the men. At this point the pattern of the Old Moccasin Dance is used: all stomp forward, the lead dancer turns to face backwards. Partners do the fish step and change places, fish step again, and then continue with the forward stomp. The little yelp (given by Fidelia Jimerson) at the end is traditional but, when asked, she was not certain that it is meant to imitate a raccoon as has been suggested (Kurath 1968:110). Seneca
Raccoon Dance 2 Seneca
Raccoon Dance 3 Seneca
Raccoon Dance 4 Seneca
Alligator Dance 1 The Alligator Dance, as suggested by the name, has its origin in the Southeast where, in fact, the Seminole have a similar dance (Sturtevant 1961:203). The prominence of call-and-response sections interspersed between song verses also indicates a strong southeastern influence.

The Alligator Dance, using the stomp-type step, is accompanied by water drum and cowhorn rattle but is unusual in that the drum is not played by the head singer since he and his assistant lead the dance. A single line of men begin by dancing counterclockwise around the singers' bench. When the women join in they link their left arms with the men's right (i.e., placing themselves on the outside of the circle) and continue the forward

The first song recorded here has the following structure:
(a) Verse on the vocables: "ho ya nei ho ya nei" - repeated 7 times
(b) Call: "yo hei--"
(c) Call and response: "ya ho (we hah)" - repeated 6 times
(b) Call: "yo hei--"

(a) Verse: "ho ya nei ho ya nei" - repeated 7 times
(b) Call: "yo hei--''
(c) call and response: "yo ho (we hah)" - repeated 7 times
(b) Call: "yo hei--"'

(a) Verse: "ho ya nei ho ya nei" - repeated 7 times
(b) Call: "yo hei--".

At each occurrence of the call "yo hei--", the couples turn in a kind of "swing your partner" using the elbow grip. The Alligator Dance has only recently (ca.1960) been revived at Allegany (Gaus 1976:204) where dances pairing members of the opposite sex are discouraged on moral grounds.
Alligator Dance 2 Seneca
Smoke Dance Another recent revival, the Smoke Dance has been performed at Allegany since about 1970 as a solo competition dance. According to Avery and Fidelia Jimerson, it evolved from the dancing of young boys around a smoky fire. Today the dancer's movements and gestures retain their association with the fire as they twirl (imitating rising smoke), jump (hopping over the fire), and wave their hands (fanning the smoke away). The music for this dance is lively and energetic and is accompanied by water drum and cowhorn rattle. Since it exhibits many of the typically Seneca features discussed under "Music: General Characteristics", a transcription is given here to allow for closer study. Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 1 Two types of Women's Shuffle Dance should be distinguished: the old ?e:ska:nye:? or ?i:ska:nye:? ko:wa:h using traditional songs associated with the Food Spirit ceremonies, and the newly-composed ?e:ski:nye:? for, social dancing. Both are danced only by women who move, facing inward, in the usual counterclockwise circle using the shuffle step described earlier.

In the new Ladies' Dance the men sing and accompany themselves on water drum and cowhorn rattles. Since about 1964 an increased interest in singing at Allegany has centered around the composition of new Ladies' Dance songs and Avery Jimerson has been one of their most prolific composers. The songs recorded here were composed in 1970 and are sung by the Allegany Singing Society. This is a set that the group often uses when visiting and performing at other reservations since the opening song, with text, introduces the singers:

'Salamanki zo gwa de: jo
A: (Salamanca, we come from)
a doo da de doo da doo da doo da de a: hey e hey

Tag: ha wi ywa he ne:h ga no wi yah.

~S-A-L A-M-A N-C-A
B: doo da doo da doo da de: a: hey e hey
doo da doo da de a doo da doo da dey

Tag: ha wi yah he ne:h ga no wi yah. (Transcription and translation of text by Fidelia Jimerson).

The structure of the song is: A tag A tag B tag A tag B. Although constructed on traditional patterns, these new songs display a bolder melodic line with the initial octave leap and use of larger intervals within the melody. The phrases also move in tumbling descent which gives the impression of a freer line. Note the musical "tag" on the base tone that extends each section.
Womens Shuffle Dance 2 Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 3 Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 4 Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 5 Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 6 Seneca
Womens Shuffle Dance 7 Seneca
Rabbit Dance 1 According to the Jimersons, the Rabbit Dance was brought to Allegany from the West by Herb Dowdy in the early 1960s. Subsequently, he and Avery Jimerson became the two most important composers of these new songs. The four songs recorded here were composed by Avery Jimerson around 1970 and, musically, combine characteristics of Plains style with typical Seneca features. For example, in Song 1, the strongly descending melodic line shows Plains influence but the steady duple beat coinciding with the pulse of the melody is Seneca. (In a Plains-style Rabbit Dance the beat of the drum would be with pulse of accompaniment and melody not coinciding). To accompany his songs Avery uses a water drum that is larger than usual both to emphasize the non-typical nature of the Rabbit Dance as well as to approximate the lower-pitched sound of a Plains drum.

The dance itself is non-Seneca in its pairing of dancers of opposite sex who hold hands in "skaters' position" (i.e., right hand in right, left in left, arms crossed). Accompanied by water drum and cowhorn rattle, the couples move in a counterclockwise circle dancing two step-close steps forward and one step-close back, arms swinging lightly to the beat. Midpoint in the song, a half~time beat signals the dancers to pivot, making one complete circle back to place, while continuing the dance step. The forward movement then resumes. For a detailed study of the Rabbit Dance, see D. Gaus 1976.
Rabbit Dance 2 Seneca
Rabbit Dance 3 Seneca
Rabbit Dance 4 Seneca
Round Dance 1 The Round Dance, also imported from the West, arrived at Allegany in 1958 or shortly before (Gaus 1976:208). Its true circle formation, with men and women alternating and facing inward for the entire dance, is not typically Seneca. In addition, the dancers at first move in the usual counterclockwise direction but at the mid-point of the song, with a signal from the drum, change direction to dance clockwise. (If there are many dancers, a second circle can be formed which then moves in opposite direction to the original.) The step used is somewhat like a sideways stomp but is performed more lightly. The right foot moves to the right and slightly forward. The left is brought sideways to the right but not forward. The right foot then moves back into line and to the right. The left foot is brought up to close with the right. The arms should sway gently with the forward and backward movement of the right foot. Of the two songs given here, only the second is Avery Jimerson's composition. Seneca
Round Dance 2 Seneca
Farewell Song These last two songs, composed by Avery Jimerson, do not belong to the category of social dance music. Rather, the Farewell Song is used by the composer to close "shows" (i.e., demonstrations of Seneca singing and dancing, with no Longhouse associations, staged for an Indian and/or White audience). Its melody is taken from an old Seneca song but its age cannot be determined. However, the idea of a farewell song can be dated back to at least the turn of the century when a song of the sane name (but not necessarily the same melody) was used in a Hiawatha pageant performed by the Senecas at Tonawanda (Bartlett 1955:15).

The Seneca Anthem, although composed in 1976, is based on a melody that Avery Jimerson learned from his father. Also used in "shows", it is for unaccompanied voice, with a text composed entirely of vocables. The power of the Anthem rests solely on its melody and slow measured pace, evoking the quiet dignity and pride of the Senecas.
Seneca Anthem Seneca