Historical References and Anniversaries
Department of the Interior Office of Indian Affairs
Segments from the Circular No. 1665 and Supplement to Circular No. 1665
April 26, 1921 and February 14, 1923
CHAS. H. BURKE, Commissioner
A link for the segments of both letters.
A link for the February 14, 1923 letter.
A link for the February 14, 1923 letter within a case study by
by James M. Craven (Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi)
Although the letters begin with the idea that some American Indian dances are permissible, by the end of the letters, the description of denounced dances is so generalized, that it gave the Government and the Church the authority to denounce, through punitive measures and corrective penalties, any form of dance, if they should choose. History illustrates that for approximately 50 years, the dance was outlawed.
It’s hard to say if there are any people still around who can share a personal account to the many talks and actions behind these letters. No only that, but what about the tribal elders and spiritual leaders who can shed light on the actual interpretations and purposes of the dances? Whether it’s in regards to the laws prohibiting dance or the observations and interpretations of the dances by insiders and outsiders, we do have an option of turning to the Holy Spirit and Scripture for direction. Scripture can provide Biblical history, early church culture and spiritual principles for Believers today. The Holy Spirit can guide us in how Yahweh wants us to apply these in our prayers for our North American indigenous people and the dance.
There are several Scriptures that talk about the purpose and place for dance, including people dancing while praising Yahweh, people dancing while giving testimonies, people dancing for joy, Yahweh using people and their dancing as a sign, people dancing as they greet one another. In fact, Matthew 11:17 & Luke 7:32 suggest that the lack of dancing is a cause of concern.
“You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11 (Amplified)
“Let them praise His name in chorus and choir and with the [single or group] dance; let them sing praises to Him with the tambourine and lyre!” Psalm 149:3 (Amplified)
“Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes!” Psalm 150:4 (Amplified)
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” Ecclesiastes 3:4 (Amplified)
“Again I will build you and you will be built, O Virgin Israel! You will again be adorned with your timbrels [small one-headed drums] and go forth in the dancing [chorus] of those who make merry. [Isa. 37:22; Jer. 18:13.] … Then will the maidens rejoice in the dance, and the young men and old together. For I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice after their sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:4 & 13 (Amplified)
“As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the Israelite towns, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul with timbrels, songs of joy, and instruments of music.” 1 Samuel 18:6 (Amplified)
“The servants of Achish said to him, Is not the David, the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in their dances: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?” 1 Samuel 21:11 (Amplified). Also 1 Samuel 29:5.
“And David danced before the Lord with all his might, clad in a linen ephod [ a priest’s upper garment]. … As the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter [David’s wife], looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. … Then David returned to bless his household. And [his wife] Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, How glorious was the king of Israel today, who stripped himself of his kingly robes and uncovered himself in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the worthless fellows shamelessly uncovers himself! David said to Michal, It was before the Lord, Who chose me above your father and all his house to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord. Therefore will I make merry [in pure enjoyment] before the Lord. I will be still more lightly esteemed than this, and will humble and lower myself in my own sight [and yours]. But by the maids you mentioned, I will be held in honor. And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” 2 Samuel 6:14, 16, 20-23 (Amplified). And 1 Chronicles 15:27-29.
“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing.” Exodus 15:20 (Amplified)
“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, Then whatever or who ever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or him up as a burnt offering. Then Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord gave them into his hand. … Then Jephthah came to Mizpah to his home, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances! And she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.” Judges 11:30-32, 34 (Amplified)
“And watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and catch every man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin.” Judges 21:21 (Amplified)
“And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry. Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to revel and feast and make merry. But his older son was in the field; and as he returned and came near the house, he heard music and dancing. And having called one of the servant [boys] to him, he began to ask what this meant. And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed that [wheat-] fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and well.” Luke 15:23-27 (Amplified)
Prayer for Dance
“Thank you Abba Father, Creator of All. Thank you for creating dance. Thank you for depositing a desire for dance in the hearts of your people. Thank you also for Your Holy Spirit who speaks to our hearts, our minds, and our souls, giving us direction and wisdom in how to dance a dance worthy of Your calling. The only requirement that you have put on the hearts of your people is that we ‘dance and sin not’ or that we ‘refrain from dance and sin not’. In all reality, we are held accountable to our obedience. If we stop dancing out of disobedience we are just as accountable as if we dance out disobedience. You are the only One who truly knows our hearts and motivations. You created us for obedience and You created us to dance. Father, the indigenous peoples of North America still have deep wounds from years and years of not being permitted to praise You through dance, to rejoice in You through dance, to dance in celebration of Your testimonies and miracles, to dance in prayer and to dance in joy for community and family. Dancing has always been such an integral part of indigenous culture, as well as Your culture. We ask for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness as we face the consequences left behind from those who were disobedient in their actions against the tribes of North America and their dances. We thank you for the restoration of the dance and for the many people who press on to see the restoration of indigenous people, through the dance. We pray that You pour out Your abundant wisdom, discernment, understanding, and favor to those who are earnestly seeking Your will in this regard. We pray that you will heal the wounds of old, that are being passed from generation to generation. We pray that you will move upon Your people with grace, humility, compassion and maturity, growing and nurturing the Church in the area of dance. We pray that by Your mighty power, that the dances of the indigenous peoples of North America will be permitted, for more than just competition dancing and entertainment. That all people will embrace the truth that the dances of indigenous peoples are at their fullest when they are freely given and accepted as an expression of praise and worship unto You. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday
(Note: This is Part 2 of a study that was originally prepared in February 2012 in partnership with NIAP Prayer Shield)
Books Used in this 12 Month Study
The Holy Bible in the following translations: KJV, NIV, Amplified, NASB, CEV and The Scriptures.
“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L. Shelley
“Encyclopedia of Native American Wars & Warfare”. General Editors William B. Kessel, Ph.D. and Robert Wooster, Ph.D.
“This Day In North American Indian History” by Phil Konstantin
As with the First Nations Monday prayer and Scripture studies, I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.
In addition, consider the following:
First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.
Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – New Testament
Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – Old Testament
Cherokee Bible Project Titles in Book form:
(A joint mission of the Cherokee Bible Project and Four Rivers Native American Church)
Genesis in Cherokee
Haggai in Cherokee
Jonah in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
CORINTHIANS in Cherokee
GALATIANS to COLOSSIANS in Cherokee
THESSALONIANS to HEBREWS in Cherokee
JAMES to JUDE in Cherokee
John’s Revelation in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)