Rabbit Sioux Songs

William Horncloud sings Rabbit Sioux Songs

William Horncloud of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, is a well known and respected traditional Sioux singer. He grew up in an area known for its singers, and has been singing since boyhood. He knows many of the old songs, and is sought after to perform and teach.

He has traveled throughout the Northern Plains states to inter-tribal celebrations, and is well known to audiences at the Flagstaff Pow-Wow and Sheridan All Indian Days. In 1970 he spent a number of weeks at Wesleyan University in Connecticut teaching Indian music.

His daily work is the work of a farmer and rancher – raising his grain crops and cattle, and drilling for water. Yet, in Indian tradition, the two parts of his life intertwine. Bill sings at early morning chores, and during the day's work. Often at night, under the cottonwood trees in Bill's front yard, come other Indian singers, or non-Indian students, or a celebrity like Johnny Cash to talk songs, and hit the drum, and make music.

The Rabbit Dance is a social dance, and the Only Sioux dance for couples. They dance together, facing forward, in a circle clockwise, with their hands joined, and crossed in front in skaters' position. The left foot takes the forward step (almost a low hop), and the right slides to close. There may be variations as the dancers feel it, so long as they follow the basic rhythm.

Since the words of the songs are always amorous, it is fun for dancers and spectators.

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Native Words



Oldest Rabbit Song No words, just rhythm. This is the basic rhythm of the Rabbit Dance. William Horncloud tells this legend of the origin of the dance. "A boy, traveling long through an immense snow blizzard, began to hear music. Following the sound he came to a group of jackrabbits. One was singing, and the rest dancing two by two with a kind of hopping step. The boy caught the song, and told his story when he finally reached his home. His relatives tried to step, like it, and it became popular. Later, signers began composing words for the rabbit dance rhythm." Sioux
Rabbit Song 2 "I'm remembering you . . . my heart is sad . . . I'm remembering you." Sioux
Rabbit Song 3 "When we dance the rabbit dance, my man gets mad, and preaches to me, but it makes no difference because I like you." Sioux
Rabbit Song 4 "During the dance, if you don't see me, I'll be at home – so be sure to stop and see me at home." Sioux
Rabbit Song 5 "My cousin is dancing alone. My man is not here. I am going to look for him." Sioux
Rabbit Song 6 "If you get lonesome, come to see me in Oglala." (This one has English words) Sioux
Rabbit Song 7 "I'm not single. You make me so happy. I'm married to my man. You can't quit your wife, so you better not come again. I'm married to my man." Sioux
Rabbit Song 8 "I was getting along good with my man until now, but now that a new way of life has come, it has made me decide to go free." Sioux
Rabbit Song 9 A girl is talking to a boy, telling him: "You are well known. For all future time I want to be with you. I'm going to love you." Sioux
Rabbit Song 10 Here a girl is talking to her cousin. "My cousin, who is that boy you're dancing with? What's his name and where does he come from? I would like to talk to him." Sioux
Rabbit Song 11 A rabbit song with English words "Won't you be my sweetheart?" Sioux
Rabbit Song 12 This song was composed by Ben Sitting Up, one of the well-known Sioux singers, now gone. "Dearie, why don't you look at me? I know you will come back to me, so I don't worry." Sioux
Rabbit Song 13 A 'home-sweet-home' song "Your're going home now. There's no hope for me, so shake my hand." Sioux