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Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community
A Giving Heritage
Published by: Indiana University Press
Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage explores how gift exchange, motivated by the values of generosity and hospitality, serves as a critical component in the preservation and perpetuation of Osage society. Authors, Daniel C. Swan and Jim Cooley collaborate with members of the Osage Nation to discuss this foundational cultural practice over two centuries and in multiple social contexts.
The book begins with an in-depth examination of the Mízhin form of marriage, which bound two extended Osage families together for economic, biologic, and social reasons intended to produce value and community cohesion for the larger society. Swan and Cooley then follow the movement of Osage bridal regalia from the Mízhin from of marriage into the "Paying for the Drum" ceremony of the Osage Ilonshka—a variant of the Plains Grass Dance, which is a nativistic movement that spread throughout the Plains and Prairie regions of the United States in the 1890s. The Ilonshka dance and its associated organization provide a spiritual charter for the survival of the ancient Osage physical divisions, or "districts" as they are called today. Swan and Cooley demonstrate how the process of re-chartering elements of material culture and their associated meanings from one ceremony to another serves as an example of the ways in which the Osage people have adapted their cultural values to changing economic and political conditions. At the core of this historical trajectory is a broad system of Osage social relations predicated on status, reciprocity, and cooperation. Through Osage weddings and the Ilonshka dance the Osage people reinforce and strengthen the social relations that provide a foundation for their respective communities.
Foreword / Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, Osage Nation
A Note on Orthography
1. Mízhin Wedding Ceremonies
2. The Material Culture of Osage Weddings
3. The Osage Ilonshka
4. The Modern Ilonshka and Transfer of the Drum
5. Enduring Values in Osage Society
Appendix: Gift Exchange and the Reproduction of Osage Society
Daniel C. Swan is Curator of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. His research, exhibition and publication efforts focus on the expressive culture of Native North America and emphasize community collaboration and materialist orientations. He is author of Peyote Religious Art: Symbols of Faith and Belief and (with Garrick Bailey) Osage Art.
Jim Cooley is Research Associate in the Department of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. He is the author of numerous articles on Native American material culture and traditional arts.
"Readers whom the title might lead to expect a visually attractive presentation of a traditional form of Osage textile art will not be disappointed. But they will encounter much more: an extremely effective account, based on insiders' perceptions for the most part, of central and recurrent expressions of ethos, which anyone interested in Osage people must read."~Williams M. Clements - Arkansas State University, Journal of Folklore Research
"Daniel C. Swan and Jim Cooley richly craft together history, practice, and the nuances of kinship making by using the materiality of wedding clothes as the entry point. Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community speaks to multiple audiences from those interested in material culture (beyond wedding clothes to understand gifts of blankets, broadcloth, food, and animals), religion, and complex social relations within Indigenous communities living under the pressures of American colonialism."~Fiona P. McDonald - University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Museum Anthropology Review
- Best Book in History and Social Sciences
- Wayland D. Hand Prize