How Pawnees Celebrate Christmas
By Lucy Little Chief
The Indian Leader, December 20, 1907 Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kansas
We celebrate our Christmas almost like Thanksgiving in Pawnee. All the bands gather together at the dancing hall a few days before Christmas day and make their homes there so they are then ready for Christmas. They arrange the hall and what they are going to do that day. All the noted chiefs from the different bands decide where they will get the Christmas tree from. The day before Christmas early in the morning they send some men after the tree. Then they put it up in the hall, ready for Christmas day.
On the morning of Christmas day the men get themselves ready for prayer meeting in the hall. Our missionary comes and talks with them about Christ and how it came we celebrate Christmas day. After the missionary gets through talking the head chief gets up and tells them the Christmas dance will begin at a certain time. Then they are dismissed. The ladies have the Christmas dinner all ready when the men come out.
After dinner the singers are called in to practice while the people get ready for the dance. The dancers put on their Indian costumes and paint their faces in many different colors. Everybody is invited to dance. Before the dance begins the singers beat the drum to give the signal that the dance will begin. The chiefs are seated in front, the dancers and singers on the sides of the chiefs. The ladies are seated in the back, the men in front. Before the dance begins the chief prays and they all smoke the peace pipe. The missionary is then allowed to pray and after he gets through the singers beat the drums and the dancers give war whoops. The dancers put on their war-bonnets and bells and the things that they have when they dance. While the dance is going on some of the older Indians get up and give their presents to their relatives or friends. They give horses, moccasins, blankets or money. The rest of the presents are on the tree. The dance goes on for a long time, till about 5:30. They then have prayer from the four chiefs of the different bands.
Then the missionary preaches for a while. Then the chief calls on certain persons to give out the presents. After they are given out they have some talks from the chiefs about Christmas day. Then the Christmas lunch is brought in. After supper the dance begins and lasts until late in the night, everybody happy for what they received and gave that day.