From Big House To Longhouse: Continuity And Change Of The Delaware Skin Dance
Taffe Reed, Susan
This dissertation addresses continuity and change of the Delaware Skin Dance, a dance accompanied by a number of short songs that the Haudenosaunee adopted from the Delaware. Once used ceremonially, today the dance is integrated into Haudenosaunee social dance practice; although the songs comprise a large percentage of living Delaware music, they are no longer known to Delaware people, making them of interest to those wishing to revitalize them in their respective communities. Through analysis of recordings, participant observation, and interviews with Haudenosaunee singers, dancers, and elders, the author explores the oral history, perpetuation, and significance of the Delaware Skin Dance and highlights the complex relationship between the Haudenosaunee, the Delaware, and their music. The author identifies the most significant change in the dance as its shift in function. Based on Iroquois oral history gathered through interviews, she argues that the Delaware Skin Dance was once used for ceremonial purposes. Through comparison with Delaware Big House songs, she suggests the dance likely possesses connections to the Delaware Big House ceremony. She finds that Iroquois satellite communities where Delaware people found refuge allowed a degree of freedom favorable to continued practice of their musical traditions that eventually allowed them to pass the songs to the Haudenosaunee. The author explains that the soundscape in contemporary Longhouses has much in common with the ancient sonic environment of the Delaware Big House, although performance spaces outside the Longhouse have changed drastically. Through analysis of Delaware Skin Dance recordings, the author demonstrates diversity in song lyrics, melodic embellishments, and repertoire held by Iroquois singers. She discusses Delaware people's interest in the Delaware Skin Dance and the commencement of efforts to relearn the songs. The author outlines a project of revivalistic musical revitalization that could lead toward renewal of Delaware music and identity, strengthening of intercommunity relations, and advancement of ethnogenesis and decolonization.
Delaware Music; Iroquois Music; Lenape Music
Pond, Steven F.
Hatch, Martin Fellows; Richardson, Troy A
Ph. D., Musicology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis