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An Indian Christmas Story

By Jennie Pratt

The Indian Leader, volume XXVI, number 14, December 29, 1922, Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kansas

At Christmas the Indians have a custom of having a dance. A few weeks before Christmas a woman or man (whichever it may be) goes to the leader of the people and tells him that he would like to have a dance given in his honor on that day and also the night before Christmas. The man who gives the dance goes to many different homes inviting people, and two or three days before Christmas the people are camping at the place selected for the dance.
The night before Christmas they have a dance which lasts until about 10 o’clock in the night and during the dance the people give presents to their friends. The men are dressed in Indian costumes, which look very pretty in the night. After the dance is over they have a big supper ready, as the man who gives the dance pays for everything that he wants to go with the dance. After supper everyone goes home for the night.
The next morning is Christmas and everyone is happy. The little children run all over the camping grounds of the different homes, stopping long enough to put their heads in at the door and say “Merry Christmas” to the people in the tent. They try to beat each other saying, “Merry Christmas,” when they first meet on Christmas morning.
In the afternoon the Indians gather at the dancing place again. The dance starts about 3:00 o’clock and lasts till about 5:30 in the evening. During the dance they give presents just like they did the day before Christmas. Some of the presents are fruit dishes full of fruit and nuts, baskets of fruit and nuts, pretty shawls, blankets and other similar presents. They have supper and that is the end of a perfect day.