“KEWA CORN DANCER”
On August 4, 1999, I witnessed a KeWa Indian corn dance at the Santo Domingo Pueblo, south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve never been inspired to sculpt a piece so fast in my life. By August 21st the piece was finished.
Everyone who saw the dancers was warned against photographing, video taping, sketching, painting or reproducing the dancer on location. I could only stand in awe and marvel at the dancers and mentally memorize their ceremonial dress. Fortunately, after sculpting this piece, and Indian, who was a corn dancer and a maker of ceremonial dress saw it and critiqued it for accuracy. His desire was for me to represent his people as accurately as possible. If you saw the dancers, you would see that….
Parrot feathers adorned the tops of their heads (green feathers with touches of red, yellow and blue). Evergreen boughs were fastened to the upper arms with bands of cloth. A black seed gourd rattle was held in the right hand. Elongated shells, of pinkish brown, were fastened to a bandoleer worn across the chest. Shell and arrowhead necklaces were worn around the neck. An evergreen bough was held in the left hand. Silver bells were worn in belt fashion around the waist. Large groups of black and green twine were fastened to both wrists and upper calves. The moccasins were cream white with white tipped black skunk fur around the ankles. A knotted white cord sash was fastened to the right hip to represent the falling rain. Each dancer wore a small leather pouch on his right hip (medicine bag). A silver fox hide was worn by each dancer on the backside fastened under the belt of silver bells. On their kilts was a patterned design. I have not learned the meaning of the design.
Standing in silence, I seemed to travel backing time as I watched hundreds of these people (men, women and children) dance as their people have danced for centuries. It started to rain and with water, 6-8 inches deep, the dance continued. I was welcomed into the home of every Indian I met. I feel both fortunate and privileged to have witnessed this event.