Seminole Nation of Oklahoma - Religious Ceremonies

Religious Ceremonies

For Seminole people who continue to observe traditional religious ceremonial practices, life revolves around a cycle of ritual activities at the “ceremonial or stomp grounds.” In modern times, these are religious centers where ceremonial dances, dinners and ball games take place, mainly during weekends throughout the spring, summer and early fall months.

Originally the individual town bands or atilwa (etvlwv in Creek) would physically organize in groups around the ceremonial ring. Seminole ceremonialism, based in Creek culture, guided every aspect of tribal life. Ceremonial teachings continue to guide those who participate in these traditions in modern times. The rituals were associated with major seasons and cycles of the year - related to planting and harvest, especially, and renewal of fertility.

Today the “ceremonial cycle” consists of four or five dances throughout the “dance season,” of which Green Corn or Posketv-rakko (Big fast) is the most important. Depending on the ceremonial ground, Green Corn can last from four days (Thursday – Sunday) to seven days (Sunday – Sunday). Friday is known as Hoktak-‘pvnkv Nettv (Women’s Dance Day), when the Ribbon Dance occurs. Friday is also the day of the Yvnvsv ‘Pvnkv (Buffalo Dance) for those ceremonial grounds whose dancers perform this dance. The signature dance, which takes place during the day on Saturday, is the Cetvhayv ‘Pvnkv, or the Feather Dance, as it is commonly referred to in English.

During Green Corn, as well as the other ceremonies, the participating members commit to dancing, fasting, medicine taking, work and other ritual activities. The purifying herbal medicine is accompanied by “scratching” of the participants’ bodies. Generally administered to the arms and legs, but not limited to these areas, “scratching” is performed to alleviate spiritual and medical ailments by strengthening the individual. Green Corn can be likened to the combined equivalent of the European-American holidays of Thanksgiving, New Year's and Easter.

During Green Corn, strained relationships among the tribe are to be reconciled and members are expected to forgive the wrongs that occurred during the year. The nighttime songs refer to acknowledgement of tribal ancestors, spiritual entities, historical events, thanksgiving and well wishing or prayers for the coming year. Daybreak on Sunday marks the completion of the Green Corn ceremony and the beginning of the new year for the ground members.

After removal, the Seminole established eight ceremonial grounds in Indian Territory. Today one, Ceyahv (Gar Creek), has a full ceremonial cycle observed with complete rituals by participants.

Read more about this topic:  Seminole Nation Of Oklahoma

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