Soldier Dance Songs

The function of the Bear Clan is to act as "soldiers," a term chosen in contradistinction to "warriors." The soldiers perform police duties, but have an ideology that extends their function partway into the related domain of war. The Bear Clan Chief (Mąnąpe Hųgera) appoints an assistant to run the ceremony itself, the Assistant Controller of Soldiers (Mąnąpe Hakóhi-rukąną́na). During the dance, they stand in the east, slightly north of the fireplace. The Bear Clan calls for the dance whenever it wishes to strengthen itself, but particularly when a tribal-wide council is held. On the occasion of the dance, the Bear clansmen parade through the village, stopping here and there to sing and dance. The power that they bring with them from the blessings of those spirits that have claws is so overpowering that the sick are freed from all their maladies. When they return to their lodge, they ascend to the control of the tribe. Before the dance, a senior warrior of the clan would tell of a war exploit in which he almost threw his life away. It is in this spirit of reckless abandon that the soldiers are to sing and dance. The dancers gather around in an irregular pattern and dance by jumping up and down with both feet. In their hands they carry the namąxínixini, "the curiously whittled baton of authority" emblematic of the Bear Clan.1 For more on the Soldier Dance, see the Bear Clan Origin Myth

Soldier Dance Song I

Stand up soldiers!

Hocąk Text

Manąp’éra nąžįwine.
Soldiers get up.

Soldier Dance Song II

Stand up, for there is a difficult thing to do.

Hocąk Text

Wažąnižą cexigíži, nąžį́ące.
Something difficult, get ready.*
*nąžį means "to stand," and -ące is a version of -kje, a future tense used as a mild imperative ("you will ...").

Soldier Dance Song III

Soldiers, I myself am the one of whom they told.

Hocąk Text

Manąp’éra, newinéną, húnagirera.*
Soldiers, I am he, of whom they spoke.
*the text has what appears to be a misprint, húnagiredra.

Soldier Dance Song IV

I am one of the soldiers.

Hocąk Text

Manąp’éra hížą winéną.
Soldiers one I am [it].

Commentary. "Mąnąpe Hakóhi-rukąną́na" — Radin has mánanp’e hak’óhiduk’onóna. The first word denotes soldiers. The term hakóhi means "assistant." Miner records tuką́ną [= duką́ną] as meaning, "I manage; I woo, court." The notes used for Radin's discussion of this dance are obviously among the earliest ones that he collected, and like everyone before him, he had some trouble with the phoneme /r/, which is variously rendered as /l/, /n/, or /d/. This is simply a case of mishearing the phoneme /r/ as /d/ at a time before he could see that this was a mistake. This may also occur in one of the songs, where the word húnagirera is rendered as húnagiredra (see above). For the word duk’onó [= duką́ną], the correct form, also recorded by Miner, is rukąną.

"those spirits that have claws" — in the Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 8), Blue Bear comes forward to join the assembly of totem animals that will evolve into the Hocąk nation. "As they tread the earth, it shook, and the leaves with spiny edges changed to men, and so too the thorns and briars, the serpents with sharp fangs, and the birds of prey with the sharp talons — all these became men under the charge of Blue Bear. ... Blue Bear announced that Earthmaker had made these men to be spiritual guardians to ward off evil from the Hocągara, for they were all soldiers among the living things of this world."2

"the sick are freed from all their maladies" — the Bear or Soldier Clan had power over sickness, as it says in the Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 5), "... and if you call upon your Soldiers to combat sickness, you shall be made well."3 When sickness spread sufficiently through a village, the Thunderbird Chief would be notified, who in turn would say to the Bear Clan Chief, "My Soldier, I am offering you tobacco, for our people have been stricken with disease." Then certain clansmen, both male and female, were selected to perform a dance under their chief's direction. They went around the village four times, and if a dog crossed their path, they were required to kill it. After the fourth circuit, they reentered the village from where the sun rises. They would visit each sick person in turn, dancing the Soldiers' Dance and laying their hands upon them. When all this had been accomplished, they went to the village chief's lodge where members of his clan had prepared a feast for them. The next day, it was expected that those who fell sick will have been made well.4

"namąxínixini" — the only form close to xini that can be found is xįnį, "growling," yielding ną-mą-xįnį, "growling earth-stick" or "growling wooden arrow."5 However, this construal of xinixini seems doubtful, given the mą ru-xinixini. Radin tells us, "In shooting fish a long arrowlike stick (mąnuxįnixįni) with a pointed end, whittled and frayed at the base like the ceremonial staff of the Bear Clan, discharged from an ordinary bow in shooting fish."6 The prefix ru- is a locative prefix meaning, "by hand, pulling toward the body" (Lipkind, Marino), leaving xinixini to refer, almost certainly, to the whittling at the base. The word xi, for instance, may mean "to fall away in flakes" (Marino), which is part of the process of whittling. The next syllable could be , meaning "to take, have, bring" (Marino). In the arrow (), this whittling seems to take the place of the vanes, and may have something to do with its use in water as a fishing arrow. The namąxinixini shares this same whittled base, but its significance is obscure. Perhaps it immitates the ru-xinixini arrow in order to bring to mind the fishing prowess of the bear. It would give some plausibility to the idea that the baton is ną-mą-xinixini, "wooden whittled arrow." For other references to the nąmąxįnįxįnį, see the Bear Clan Origin Myth (1, 2).

"soldiers" — the word mąną́pe is conventionally translated as "soldier," but the mąną́pe, who are members of the Bear Clan, are in fact police, enforcing as they do the traditional rules of society, in some cases by the use of force.

Songs. Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 2), Bladder, Song about the Older Brother (v. 3), Buffalo Dance Songs, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Returning, Clan Songs, Bear Clan, Song for Starting Out, Clan Song, Bear Clan, Song of the Youngest, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, Clan Songs, Buffalo Clan, The Four Songs of Hojanoka, Clan Songs—Deer Clan, Clan Songs—Wolf Clan, Clan Songs—Wonáǧire Wąkšik Clan, The Crawfish's Song, Duck Song, Farewell Songs, The Four Services Songs, Grandfather Sparrow's Rain Songs, Grizzly Bear Songs, Hare's Song to Grasshopper, Hare's Song to the Wągepanįgera, Hare's Song to Wildcat, Hawk's Song, Heroka Songs, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Little Fox's Death Song, Little Fox's Death Song (for the Warpath), Little Fox's Tail Song, Love Song I (female), Love Song II (female), Love Song III (female), The Mouse Song, Nightspirit Songs, The Quail's Song, Redman's Song, Slow Song of the Heroka, Soldier Dance Songs, Song for Calling the Buffalo, Song from the Water, Song from the Water (King Bird), The Song of Bluehorn's Sister, Hocąk Text — The Song of Sun Caught in a Net, The Song of the Boy Transformed into a Robin, Song of the Frog to Hare, Song of the Thunder Nestlings, The Song of Trickster's Baby, Song to Earthmaker, The Song to the Elephant, The Sun's Song to Hare, Three Warrior Songs, Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 1), Turtle's Call for a Warparty (v. 2), Turtle's Four Death Dance Songs, Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 1), Twins, Ghost's Song (v. 2), Twins, Ghost's Song (The Two Brothers), Twins, the Songs of Ghost and Flesh, Twins, Song of the Father-in-Law, Victory Song, Wailing Song, Warrior Song about Mącosepka, What a Turtle Sang in His Sleep, Wolf-Teasing Song of the Deer Spirits. Songs in the McKern collection: Waking Songs (27, 55, 56, 57, 58) War Song: The Black Grizzly (312), War Song: Dream Song (312), War Song: White Cloud (313), James’ Horse (313), Little Priest Songs (309), Little Priest's Song (316), Chipmunk Game Song (73), Patriotic Songs from World War I (105, 106, 175), Grave Site Song: "Coming Down the Path" (45), Songs of the Stick Ceremony (53).


1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 338-339. Informant: a member of the Bear Clan.

2 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 186-187. His informant was a member of the Thunderbird Clan.

3 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 183. Informant: a member of the Bear Clan.

4 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 177-179.

5 On the namaxinixini, see Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 178.

6 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 66.