Round Dance Singing
piciciwin, The Moving Slowly or Round Dance
The Plains Cree received this dance from the Assiniboine, who called it the Moving Slowly Dance. A Cree gave this explanation of the dance to David Mandelbaum, an anthropologist.
The Moving Slowly Dance came from the south. A woman of the Mud House People, (one of the village tribes of the Missouri, probably the Mandans) had four adopted children. She made feather bonnets for them and showed them how to dance. A different woman would wear the bonnet for each song. That is what I heard when I visited the Rocky Boy Reserve in Montana. The Moving Slowly Dance, as we do it now, (without a bonneted leader), was first danced by the Stoney people. This was at the time of the Rebellion (1885). They captured one of our men. That is how we got it.
The dance was held during times of sickness; however, it was also deemed as a social dance, and began with a Pipe Ceremony. The music followed a, "One-two", beat of the drum. Dancers formed a circle, and stepped in a clockwise shuffle.
Messengers were sent out to invite dancers to take part. If a dancer refused the invitation, the messenger could take some part of his regalia, usually a belt, or roach. If the dancer still did not go the dance, a special song was sung for him, and someone would be chosen to take his place. At the next dance, the dancer was expected to tell why he did not go to the last dance. He also gave tobacco to the person who took his place. His regalia would then be returned. Today, the dance is known as the Friendship, or Round Dance. It is performed during our modern Indian celebrations or Pow Wows.
The Grass Dance and Round Dance were part of all celebrations put on by different societies. There were a series of officers in this Society, the Chief of Dancers, the Drum Keeper, the Servers, the Pipe Keeper, the Gate Keeper, the Whip Keeper, the Belt Keeper, the Singers, the Grass Dancers, the Belt Dancers, the Feather Society, Cowboy Society, and the Macanesk Society. All were intact until the 1950's, with the exception of the Blackfoot.
kiskipocikek (means "wedge in", it is an idiom, means to dance with a women who is not a relative or a cross-cousin), this is choosing a dancing partner for the Round Dance, which was a custom borrowed from the southern tribes.
During the Round Dance, a man would break into the circle and dance to the right of the woman he fancied. Tradition dictated that certain kinship relationships had to be observed in the dance. For example, a man could not dance with his sister. When the dance was over, the man would give the announcer a gift for the woman. This act would show his respect and gratitude for dancing with her. The woman was then obliged to dance with him and was to return a gift.
If a man cut in between the couple, he offered a gift to both the man and the woman. Indian people were great givers and this is another excuse to give a gift to a visitor or special person. It was considered a kind act of respect and love for another. It was not considered wrong to dance with the opposite sex, but you could not hold hands. Courting was very discreet and very private.
Source: Saskatchewan Indian Pow Wow Issue 1999 v29 n02 p07 - Pat Deiter, from Dancer of the Northern Plains, Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, 1987.