ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Green Corn Ceremony

Updated on February 15, 2012
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

Reproduction of Totem in John White's painting

Source


Possibly the earliest European recording of the Green Corn Dance was in a painting by John White in the late 1500s when he was governor of Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony on Roanoke Island, located on the coast of today’s North Carolina. He titled it “Indians Dancing Around a Circle of Posts.”

The Green Corn Ceremony, also known as Busk (meaning to fast), was one of several ceremonies important to the spiritual and social lives of many eastern Native American people. Some form of the ceremony took place in both the northern and eastern tribes. It was held in the late summer after the ripe corn was harvested. The festival took place over several days time, varying from tribe to tribe, usually lasting four to eight days.

The ceremony was one of renewal. It started by the people thoroughly cleaning their houses and the other buildings in the village. Then the people fasted and purged by drinking large quantities of a black tea made from the yaupon plant, which is in the holly family and grows in the coastal regions of the southeast. This was believed to purify the individual, purging him of all evil and falsehood.

To further symbolize the new beginning all fires in the village were extinguished. The high priest then kindled a new central fire. After that sacred fire was lit each family took a flame from the central fire to start their new fires at their own home. Leaves of tobacco were put into the fire-pit so that the smoke from the tobacco would lift their prayers of thanksgiving to the Great Spirit.

This was also a time of forgiveness. With the exception of murder, the people were absolved of all their pass transgressions. Any grudges between neighbors were set aside. It was a time to wipe the slate clean and have a new beginning.

A great feast broke the fasting. Corn was prepared in many ways, along with other vegetables and meats. The priest gathered the elders around the sacred fire to begin the corn dance. John Whites painting shows a circle marked with seven poles with carved faces at the top and men and women dancing in the circle. A small group of women are in the center of the circle.

Some writings report the people danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. After they rested and ate they returned to the dance. Games were also played during this celebration of a new beginning. The tradition of the Green Corn Ceremony is still practiced today.

Drawing by John White of dancers during Green Corn Ceremony
Drawing by John White of dancers during Green Corn Ceremony | Source

References


An Algonquian Year: The Year According to the Full Moon by Michael McCurdy

A New Voyage to Carolina by John Lawson

The American Indian in North Carolina by Douglas L. Rights

The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditions and Culture by Helen C. Roundtree

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • David Legg 7 profile image

      David Legg 7 

      6 years ago from Trout Paradise, Colorado

      Great, well researched and well written hub! Thank you for the excellent work!

      David

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)