Indian Dancing


Neil Suits

The Corn Dance!

Even though I never got to do it, the Indian dancing at Tosebo always fascinated me. In particular, I longed to do the Corn Dance. If I recall correctly, that was the final dance of the season at the Pow Wow where the hatchet was buried between the Chippewa and the Blackfeet. I memorized the steps and even went out in the forest and practiced it with a friend. I can still remember a few of the steps and I think that with a short refresher course I could probably perform the whole thing. I don’t know why I didn’t just tell a counselor or coach that I wanted to do it. Later on, dancing became an important part of my life. I eventually took up both tap and ballroom dance and even spent a short time teaching at Arthur Murray’s Dance studio in Minneapolis. Much later I taught my wife to ballroom dance and we went on to teach literally thousands of people at the YMCA and at schools that I’ve attended and worked at, including Rhode Island School of Oceanography, Penn State and Colorado State University. However, even though I’ve done a lot of dancing in my life, I never got to perform the Corn Dance.


Double toe-heel

As a basically uncoordinated kid on land -- water was my element back then -- I was especially pleased with myself when I learned to do the "double toe-heel" dance step. Never got to use it after Tosebo, however. It wasn't called for when I was a member of an Order of the Arrow initiation team while a staff member at the Chicago Area Boy Scout Council's Owasippe Scout Reservation in the mid-'60s.


I seem to remember that there were four basic step (learn-able at our ages.) The basic was "Toe-Heel," which was slow, and a precurser to Michael Jackson's "Moon Walk." There was the "Canoe Step," with alternating sweeping taps of the toe to the side. And the "Double Toe-Heel," which was kind of a running, skipping step. Can't remember the fourth step at this time.

I know that you also got in trouble by letting your Indian blanket drag on the ground!
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