White Deerskin Dance

White Deerskin Dance

Very rarely (but sometimes) it feels like a subject in a photo crosses time to connect to the present day.  To us.  This is one of those photos.

What must that young man be thinking about the (most likely white) photographer there to capture one of his community’s sacred events… (keep clicking on the photo to enlarge and you will see what I’m talking about)


4 Responses to White Deerskin Dance

  1. olmanriver says:

    Outdoor Life, May 1925, pg. 336:
    “The Klamath Indians held their last White Deerskin dance in Northern California, after which these sacred skins were reverently destroyed.
    Shall the world now come to an end? For the tribe believed in the magic influence of their medicine dances just as religiously as white Christians believe in prayer. It was a religious ceremony which they held each year to prevent the world from going wrong. A supplication to their god, the god of nature, the true creator, whom they worshipped. These Indians had no stone images or wooden crosses to pray to. They prayed, talking in medicine words, to the one great spirit, which was the only god they knew.
    The Klamath Indians’ religion was not heathenish or superstitious. It was wonderful and beautiful. And now these old folks have surrendered up their sacred rites to the white men’s thinking.
    These old people have retired in silence and sorrow, to await the end. What will be we cannot say. Perhaps there will be another Great Change as there was in the beginning of history, when wild creatures were changed to human beings and the dusky race was formed. But these old-time Indians have seen their day. Civilization has entered their once sacred domain. Their hunting grounds and fishing streams are monopolized more and more each year by white people who cannot respect or revere their religious ceremonies. So, conquered and broken, in silence and sadness these old people have retreated to await the world’s end, and the magic White Deer dance has ceased for all time.” A. Phillips

  2. Mike W says:

    Enjoy your blog very much. I went to 7th,8th, 9th grade in Hoopa in the late ’60’s. I remember going to a Brush Dance….

    I am the assistant on an exhibit at the Mendocino County Museum, entitled Carl Purdy: A Passion for Plants and Place. Please stop by the next time you are going through Willits.

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