Drum Dance Essay
As seems to be common to many indigenous tribes, both the Saux and the Samoans led a spiritually-based life, which involved paying homage to a higher being. The Saux consistently sought guidance from the creator in how to live. In a similar way, the Samoans consulted wizards who practiced magical arts. Ceremonies formed an important part of tribal life. The aim was to honor their gods. For both the Saux and the Samoans, these often assumed the form of clan feasts, namings, adoptions, and burials.
The Saux had major thanksgiving festivals a couple of times a year. These were to celebrate the start of the spring season and then again to celebrate the fertility of the land in summer after the harvest. Like the Saux, Samoans celebrated the New Year offerings, which is the principal feast of the year which honors their primary god, Tangaloa-fua. In recent times, new religious practices such as the Drum Dance have been added to the rich tapestry of Saux tradition. Dance has always dominated Samoan celebrations especially at weddings.
Dance today, for both the Saux and the Samoans has changed hardly at all in its form and its meaning. Inherent in the flex of the hand and the turn of the foot, is the transferred and accumulated knowledge handed down from their ancestors. Further back in time, Samoans believed in demoniacal possession. Samoan wizards used charms to drive evil spirits out of the bodies of those possessed by them. Like the Samoans, the Saux had their own shamans that the tribe referred to in matters of possession, and whom they sought supernatural advice from when they needed guidance.
Whilst we know that languages exist in linguistic families which we can use to trace their origins, both the Saux and the Samoans attribute more to language than simply words that they’ve always spoken. According to Saux tradition, their language contained all the accumulated knowledge of their ancestors. Similarly, Samoan wizards often claimed that they were speaking under the influence of a spirit. Language was a powerful medium when interpreted by Saux shaman or Samoan wizards.
Animals and images of nature featured strongly in both Saux and Samoan religious life. The Saux believed that every person and animal had a ‘manito’ or guardian spirit. Samoans preferred to wear their beliefs and links to nature on their bodies. Tattooing has a long tradition in Samoan culture. Most of the motifs were of animal origin as there were considered sacred by different families. From a young age, Saux boys were taught to fast and keep holy vigils to bring their souls closer to the Great Spirit.
Once they had proved themselves worthy, their ‘manito’ or guardian spirit would be revealed. Proving one self was also an important to Samoans. Seven-day long fires would be kept burning to celebrate a man who had proved himself in battle. This was done for anyone who made himself illustrious in battle. Both the Saux and the Samoans believed in the power of sacred objects. Once the guardian spirit was revealed to Saux boys, they could begin collecting sacred things to be kept in a bag around their necks.
Similarly, Samoan wizards could invoke curses. By invoking O le tangata fai tui, they could curse an object of hatred or dread, and use enchantments against it. References Native Languages of the Americas. (2009). A Sauk Legend. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from Native Language of the Americas website : http://www. native-languages. org/saukstory. htm New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. (2008). Myths and Legends of Ancient Samoa. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from Victoria University of Auckland website: http://www. nzetc. org/tm/scholarly/tei-TuvAcco-t1-body1-d48.html Native Languages of the Americas. (2009).
Native Americans Sac and Fox Culture and History. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from Native Language of the Americas website: http://www. native-languages. org/sac-fox. htm Scribd. (n. d). Samoan customs, Analogous to those of the Israelites. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from Scribd website: http://www. scribd. com/doc/3086235/samoan-customs-analogous-to-those-of-the-israelites Sultzman, Lee. (1999). Sauk and Fox History. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from http://www. tolatsga. org/sf. html