Bear Society Dance

Bear Society Dance

Varies
This ritual dance is performed by the Bear Society, an Iroquois Indian group known for its ability to cure the victims of "bear sickness," a type of mental illness of which the victim is aware, but which he or she cannot control. The illness is caused by the bear spirit, and ceremonial foods that would please the spirit are an important part of the ritual. The dance is held in the patient's home or in the longhouse. As part of the ritual, members of the society blow berry juice on the patient.
There are actually two dances: one is a curing rite, and the other can be performed at any time, even without a patient present. The first consists of slow chants, a round dance with a stomp step, and finally the pairing of dancers. Patients cured by the ritual become members of the society.
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 724
EncyNatAmerRel-2001, p. 15