Yurok Indian Brush Dance

In this post I am going to talk about the Brush Dance. In this case, I will discuss the dance in relation to the Yurok Indians. The ceremony’s primary purpose is to pray for the healthy future of a child, or in some cases to pray for the healing of a child that is ill. The ceremony used to be performed in the house of the child, but now it is usually performed at dance pits in the tribal village. The dance typically lasts a few days, from Wednesday to Sunday morning.

The following image was taken during a Brush Dance being performed by natives in California.


During the dancing, the child is given a type of medicine, commonly a type of sacred herb used for healing. The herb is either burned around the child or sometimes eaten. The medicine, dancing, and prayers are the main components used to fight off the evil spirits and cleanse the soul of the child. On Wednesday, the dance begins with the medicine doctor, his or her helpers, the child, and the child’s family; the medicine doctor actually prepares for the ceremony earlier than this. On Thursday, two dances are performed. On Saturday, dancing takes place throughout the night until Sunday morning right before the sunrise. This is the part of the ceremony where the dancers will showcase their most elegant attire. Following the conclusion of the ceremony, a meal is prepared for everyone in attendance.

Although not everyone in the ceremony partakes in the dancing, those in attendance are expected to bring positivity. They must bring strictly good thoughts and prayers, leaving negative thoughts and emotions behind. The positive atmosphere helps the dance’s effectiveness in healing the child and ensuring a healthy life. Many nearby villages and tribes come together for the event, making it a quite social environment. Multiple camps are often readied for the many dances.



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