Kiowa Gourd Dance Songs

Canyon Records C-6103

Canyon Records
Singers: Mr. & Mrs. Vincent Bointy; Mr. & Mrs. Billy Botone; Fred Creeping Bear; Mr. & Mrs. John Emhoolah, Jr.; Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Haumpy; Herschel Kaulaity; Raymond White Buffalo.

The songs of the Gourd dance are very old. They are part of the heritage of many of the families who belong to the Gourd societies. They belonged to prominent warriors, to many people who have gone on. These songs are being preserved through the gourd societies and their dancers and singers, and preserved with honor.
New songs are sometimes composed today - to honor present day warrior-members of a gourd society (as Vietnam veterans). These more recent compositions are not sung during the formal Gourd Dance, but are reserved for some special occasion, or for a special period during a celebration.
Except for very special dances (July Fourth, Veteran's Day, etc.) a basic costume is worn by all groups of Gourd dancers. Differences in the way some articles are worn are obvious among the different groups, and I shall not attempt top point out the variations observed, but only to point out the standard costume.
Street clothes are basic and solid color shirts or Indian 'ribbon shirts' are preferred. Beaded hat bands, German silver jewelry as hat pins or tie slides, are often seen. Beaded or turquoise bola ties or rolled scarves may be worn. Bandoliers of mescal beans (red berries), brass or nickel one-quarter inch beads are strung and worn over the right of left shoulder, depending on the group one belongs to.
Red and blue tradecloth shoulder blankets, about twenty four inches wide and eight feet long, are worn around the neck, draped in back and the hanging edges tucked behind the arms in front, or over the right shoulder, across the heart and secured at the left side about waist high with a beautiful beaded or German silver medallion. Other individuals will wear the red portion of the blanket 'over the heart' at all times. Still another method of designation for some is the 'position' of the sun in relation to the person.' Some form of decoration adorns the center of the red and blue and is centered on the blanket in the back. Many veterans proudly display their medals and ribbons. During the hot summer months, a white sheet may be used in place of the red and blue.
A sash, usually of velvet in rich reds or blues, as long as seven feet and four to six inches wide, is worn around the waist (under the blanket and bandoliers) and tied with a bow or overlap knot on the right side. The ends are decorated with long 'curtain tassel' fringe and gourd-stitch beadwork.
Two primary items are the gourd shaker, and a loose style or flat fan carried by each dancer. The shakers are decorated with ribbons or beadwork, and the shaker portion is usually of metal. All items except the fan, shaker, sash, bandoliers and blankets are optional. During the special celebrations, buckskin clothes and beautiful embroidered shawls are worn around the waist by many dancers.
Most Plains Indian dances or celebrations are preceded by an invocation and a flag song. Then the dance begins. During the first song, the dancers remain seated and shake their rattles in time to the song. During the second time through the song, the dancers all stand (all the while the rattles are shaking in time) and dance in place, shaking their rattles and flexing their knees in time to the drumbeat, until the middle portion of the song when three hard beats are introduced and the dancers make a slight bow and take small steps toward the center., The dancers usually remain dancing in place until the end of the song. The drum picks up toward the end of the song, the dancers shake their rattles rapidly, but at the conclusion the rattles and drum fade out in unison.
...Notes by Tyrone H. Stewart, Editor "American Indian Crafts and Culture Magazine," Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



Song 1 Kiowa
Song 2 Kiowa
Song 3 Kiowa
Song 4 Kiowa
Song 5 Kiowa
Song 6 Kiowa
Song 7 Kiowa
Song 8 Kiowa
Song 9 Kiowa
Song 10 Kiowa
Song 11 Kiowa
Song 12 Kiowa
Song 13 Kiowa
Song 14 Kiowa