Skits and Dramas
The LIfe of the Corn - A drama
in 5 dances
by Alice C. Fletcher
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.—This ceremonial dance
touches upon the mystery of the giving of life
that life may be maintained; an exchange that
links together the different forms of life
and enhances the joy of living.
Properties.—Thin green mantles;
yellow plumes like the corn tassel; bone clips;
as many of these articles as there are dancers.
Directions.—This dance belongs
to both sexes and a number of each should take
part, if that is possible. Should there be
trees near the open space where the dance takes
place, one-half of the dancers, closely wrapped
in their green mantles, should be grouped at
one side among the trees and the other half
similarly placed at the other side. In the
center of the space a single dancer stands
facing the rear, wrapped about the head and
body with the green mantle, leaving only the
All being in readiness, the central figure
turns slowly, lifts a draped arm and says slowly
"Harken! The Corn speaks!"
The group of dancers on the right then sing
softly the first line only of the Ritual
Song in which the Corn speaks. The group of
dancers on the left repeat the same line
like an echo of the first group. Both groups
of dancers now begin to move slowly and in
rhythm with the following song toward the figure
standing in the center of the space, singing,
as they move, the Ritual Song from the beginning:
Native American Ritual Song No. 1
Fourfold deep lie my roots within the land;
Clad in green, bearing fruit, Lo! here I stand!
Pluck and eat, life for life, behold, I give!
Shout with joy, dance and sing with all that live.
At the words "Lo! here I stand!" the company
of dancers should all be standing in a semi-circle.
As the words in the third line, "Behold, I
give!" are sung, the draped arms should be
slightly extended forward as in a presentation.
The fourth line requires some dramatic action,
but it should be restrained rather than free.
The arms, still draped with the green mantles,
should be raised a little as the words "Shout
with joy" are sung, and during the singing
of the remainder of the line swayed from side
to side in rhythm with the song, always with
a reserve in the movements, because of the
mystery mentioned in the words of the song,
that life is maintained by the giving of life.
A pause of about two beats should follow this
As "Ho-o! Ho-o!" the opening of the next song,
is given, every dancer should suddenly turn
half-way round, give a movement of the head
such as would cause the mantle to fall back
and leave the head with the corn tassel exposed;
the ends of the mantle should be gathered in
the hands so that the mantle can wave with
the dance as the following song is sung:
Native American Song No. 2
Dance we singing,
Of the wealth of summer fair;
Hearts beat lightly,
Skies shine brightly,
Youth and Hope are ev'rywhere.
Refrain: Ho-o! Ho-o! Ho! Ho! Ho!
As each "Ho-o!" of the refrain is sung, the
dancers should whirl like merry sprites, twine
and untwine their green mantles about their
forms until the song begins again. Then they
should all skip off with springing, rhythmic
steps in open Indian file, letting their mantles
float and wave about them as they wind in and
out over the camp ground carrying "Youth and
Hope ev'rywhere." Every time the refrain is
reached, the dancers should stop and whirl,
then as the song begins again move off in line,
dancing as before. When they are ready to stop
(that can only be done during the singing and
whirling of the refrain), each dancer should
whirl from the line and keep up that movement,
singing "Ho!" until his or her tent is reached.