The Grass Dancer
The Grass Dancer
Pencil and ink
Reciprocal series #4
THE STORY BEHIND THE GRASS DANCE *retold by Louisa Wilcox
The story stems from a young boy who was crippled. He told his grandfather that he wanted to run and ride horses and dance like all the other kids. His grandpa said well, you can be. We have certain ways and certain spiritual beliefs that would guide you to be that way. So his grandpa told him to go to this sacred area, a fasting ground, and to seek guidance and to fast and pray there, and to sing for four days.
So this boy went to a patch of sweet grass where our people would go for these types of sacred ceremonies. He fasted there on this bed of sweet grass for four days. And through that he was tested by elements, and on the fourth day he was about to give up, and there was a big storm that came. Within this storm he was approached by different elements and different beings. And just about the time he was about give up he was approached by a deer. This deer walked up on him, and this boy being deprived of any kind of food or sustenance for so long, I guess he had to dig deep within his spirituality to kind of maintain his composure.
He was able to have some kind of communication with this deer and this deer was speaking to him through his mind and he was telling him, “Hey what are you doing here? Why are you all alone? As a young boy, why are you out here?” This boy was like, “I can’t run and dance and play like the other kids, so I am seeking guidance. I am seeking help from the Great Spirit.” So this deer started talking to him. “Ok I see that your intention is pure, I am going to give you something. I am going to give you some songs.”
And so he was shown some songs that talk about a story of a buffalo in a storm. Whenever a buffalo encounters a storm, as hard as it gets, it keeps going forward, because the buffalo knows that at the end of the storm there’s always going to be a rainbow. There’s always hope at the end of the storm. So this boy endured, and he was given some grass dance songs. So he took these songs back to his people and this boy, he told his grandpa about these songs and he sang them for him. And little by little, he was able to move his crippled legs. He moved his left and did the same on his right.
Pretty soon he was able to dance. Everything he did on his left, he did on his right. These songs, originally, they were healing songs, and the dance was originally a healing dance.