Hasinai: A Traditional History of the Caddo Confederacy

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Hainai differs dialectically from both Hasinai and Kadohadacho forms of spoken Caddo. A little evidence was still obtainable in the form of a few remembered differences in terms and phrases in the late twentieth century. These were of two types.

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First, phonetic differences appeared as the people studied their languages. Second, complete differences existed in terminology.

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Much of this appears connected with adoption of alien concepts, particularly from the Spanish. However, Hainai kinship terms and usages also differed. In the early twentieth century Native speakers noted the close relationship of Nabedache, another band among the Hasinai, and Hainai.


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Greater divergence was noted between Hainai and the Kadohadacho, Nacogdoche, and Anadarko. The Hainai provide significant leadership among the Caddo people, fully integrating themselves within the contemporary Caddo Nation. John R.


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  6. The Drum Dance is the first in the night's cycle of dances and is always performed at tribal functions. Male leaders carry the drum around the dance ground clockwise, in harmony with the earth's movements, followed by the Caddo women.

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    Together they sing the songs of Caddo origins. Beginning in the west, the procession stops at each of the cardinal directions before returning to the point of beginning.

    The Caddo have moved through their history each time the dance is performed. The Turkey Dance must be danced before sunset, and is integral to the cultural tradition of the Caddo.

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    The Turkey Dance, sometimes called the Victory Dance, belongs to the women. Only in the last phase are men selected by the dancers to join them. Caddo women originally danced to honor and celebrate the exploits of returning warriors. Many of the 52 songs relate specific battles with the Osage, Choctaw, Apache, and Tonkawa. Other songs recall significant natural phenomena, like the creation of Caddo Lake. New events may be incorporated into the traditional history by any of the dancers.

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    Some of the Turkey Dance songs are in ancient dialects like Ais, Neche, Kichai , and Natchitoches , no longer understood even by fluent speakers, but the cultural and historical information contained within these songs is ingrained in tribal memory. An object of tremendous cultural patrimony in the community is a Spanish staff of office brought from Louisiana to Oklahoma by Tall Woman, Mary Inkanish.

    Staffs of office were presented to native leaders by Spanish explorers and administrators as symbols of political authority. The exact origins of Tall Woman's staff are not known, but it has been passed down among her female descendants to be used in the Turkey Dance today. Another group of important Caddo songs, Riding Songs, have no associated dances, but were sung when the Caddo travelled from place to place on horseback. One ancient Riding Song relates the story of two brothers who killed an enemy wearing Spanish armor.

    Other Riding Songs recount the Caddo removal from Louisiana. When abandoning their Red River homeland, the Caddo travelled at night to avoid aggressive Texas soldiers. In Yawdawsh [Redbird], the redbird warns the sojourners that daylight approaches. Caddo Nation today has its headquarters near Binger, Oklahoma. There are over 3, enrolled tribal members. At these gatherings, the Caddo remember their origins and bring their history forward. Residents of Louisiana may not realize that the Caddo people remain through the names they left behind-Caddo Parish, Caddo Lake, Campti, Ouachita, Kichai, and Natchitoches, to name but a few.

    The Caddo, however, have never forgotten their connections to the area. Although few contemporary tribal members were born in Louisiana, Caddo people will always call Louisiana home. Carter, Cecile Elkins. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Newkumet, Vynola Beaver and Howard Meredith.

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    Parsons, Elsie Clews. Notes on the Caddo. Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association 43 3,Pt. Menasha, Wisconsin: American Anthropological Association. Swanton, John Reed. United States Bureau of Ethnology Bulletin This article first appeared in the Louisiana Folklife Festival booklet. Dayna Lee is an anthropologist based in New Orleans and specializes in Caddo culture. She was formerly the folk arts coordinator for the state of Oklahoma and Regional Folklorist at the Louisiana Folklife Center. Contains photos.

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