BEGGARS DANCE (LAKOTA)

This is a painting by George Catlin of a Lakota Beggars Dance based on a sketch made in 1832. The purpose of the dance is the same among the Lakota as among the Hočągara.

“This spirited dance was given, not by a set of beggars … but by the first and most independent young men in the tribe, beautifully dressed, (i.e., not dressed at all, except with their breech clouts or kelts, made of eagles' and ravens' quills) with their lances, and pipes, and rattles in their hands, and a medicine-man beating the drum, and joining in the song at the highest key of his voice. In this dance every one sings as loud as he can halloo; uniting his voice with the others, in an appeal to the Great Spirit, to open the hearts of the bystanders to give to the poor, and not to themselves; assuring them that the Great Spirit will be kind to those who are kind to the helpless and poor”.1


1 George Catlin, Letters and Notes, 2 Vols. (London: Published for the author by Tilt and Bogue, Fleet Street, 1842) 1:245 and Plate 103.