“With the spread of Christianity among some Native Americans in the early 20th century came certain Christmas rituals — trees and presents and jolly old Santa Claus — that were folded into traditional wintertime celebrations…. Some Native Americans put a special spin on Christmas, incorporating traditions and tales that date back ages.” L. Weeks, NPR
Excerpt: A Very Native American Christmas, Linton Weeks, NPR
“The Yale Expositor of St. Clair County, Mich., reported on December 18, 1913 that for certain Sioux dwelling in South Dakota, Christmas and its accoutrements came through government-run schools. In each village, the Sioux collected funds for a feast. One member dressed up as Kris Kringle and made speeches and handed out presents. Native American children, the newspaper noted, were quick to show interest in the Christmas tree.
The Salish passed down a Christmas story of a great and good man who came among their forefathers and performed miracles of all kinds, and on leaving them said he would return in the form of a large white coyote, They say he has appeared at different times, but has not been seen now for more than 150 years.
In San Felipe Pueblo, N.M., the 1913 Expositor account pointed out, the holiday celebration among Native Americans living there was a curious mixture of Christian and [Native] customs. Members went to the old mission church in the morning, held a feast at midday and then began a fantastic and ceremonial dance that continues for half a week.
Today, explains Deborah A. Jojola, Curator of Exhibitions at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque – which represents the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico — most of the Pueblo Nations within New Mexico have seasonal cycles for ceremonies and celebrations…On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many of the Pueblos host special masses and dances. The Jemez Pueblo, for example, celebrates with Buffalo Dances on Christmas Eve and early morning on Christmas Day.
The Buffalo Dancers – make their way down from the nearby mesas into the Pueblo bringing the Spirit of Prayer, Song and Dance… In Isleta Pueblo, there is a winter dance held in the St. Augustine Church after the Christmas Eve mass. Many of the festivities are for all ages.
In virtually all ceremonies, Pueblo children are integral participants. Indian parents rarely, if ever, need a babysitter for traditional ceremonial preparations or actual events.”
WISHING EVERYONE A VERY NATIVE HOLIDAY!