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The Seminole Indians
Green Corn Ceremony


Introduction | How They Came to Be | Religious Beliefs | Native Clothing and Housing | Green Corn Ceremony | Death and Burial Ritual | Conclusion

Green Corn Ceremony.

         Though the Seminoles are tightlipped about their ceremonies and native songs, many exist throughout their culture. Songs including their famous Green Corn Dance, Hunting Dance, as well as lullabies to soothe babies, songs for the treatment of the sick, childrens songs and many more represent their culture. One of the best known ceremonies still practiced today is the Green Corn Dance. It takes place every year around the months of June or July, the date being set by the medicine man and his assistant. The Dance lasts until about four days or so, and in some instances, it might be longer (Floridas Seminole Indian 73-74).

         The Indians actually start to gather days before the ceremony and help clean the dance floor, mend chickees, and go hunting. Just before the ceremony, an amazing hunt was arranged. On the first day in the early morning, the medicine man bathes and plays the role of the director in the preparations. Then, they gather wood for a dance fire while in the afternoon they play a ball game; boys against girls. Several dances are then staged later at night. Feasting usually commences on the second day with the men eating alone in a "ceremonial hut called the big house" while the women and children eat separate from the men in clan camps nearby. During the course of the day, men might go out and kill a white heron anduse the feathers later on in the ceremony. After this, the ball game and usual dancing at night is repeated. To end the day, at midnight the men begin to fast (Floridas Seminole Indian 74).

         On the third day in the morning, the medicine man along with his assistants bathe again and bring out the consecrated medicine bundles. Two drinks are then prepared and taken by the men known as the "black drinks" while feathers of the heron are hung from poles which are used in the Feather Dance (staged twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon). Court is then held at about noon where elders hear cases involving infringements of "tribal laws, morals, and customs; and they pass judgment." this is then followed by the usual ball game and dancing. Using a flint-and-steel, the medicine man ignites a fire at nightfall while the contents of the bundle are revealed. Four ears of corn (representing the four points of a compass) are then placed by the fire. The third "black drink" is then prepared on the fire and while it boils, dances are performed. It continues to boil up until midnight when the corn is finally placed in the pot. The men then consume the drink and soon purge while the medicine man and his assistants along with others, proceed to talk and tell stories and the other Seminoles just dance the night away (Floridas Seminole Indian 74-76).

         Finally, on the fourth day, the sacred bundles are hidden and the ritual of scratching has begun. The medicine man scratches the men and boys to insure health with a small tool which contains needles at the tip. What is left from the "black drink" is placed in heated stones in what is known as the sweat house where the men take a "Turkish bath" and then bathe in cold water The fast is broken when for the first time, the Indians eat their new corn crop. This means a new year has started. Other ceremonies include the Hunting Dance held in the fall and lasting about four nights. It contains a hunt and a dance where masks made out of cypress bark were worn. They have even arranged canoe-building ceremonies. Though they perform many dances and stage many ceremonies, the Seminoles use a small amount of musical instruments to execute them. Rattles made from coconut and turtle shells along with water drums and tom toms served as instruments in the Green Corn Dance. Some instruments have even reached museums, but unfortunately the artistry of being able to make them and play them as well has faded out (Floridas Seminole Indians 76-78).


Green Corn Ceremony

Dance During Ceremony