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Honor Beats

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will lift my hands. (Ps. 63)

Raising our hands is an outward expression of an inward posture. God permits us to respond in many ways as we worship and pray to Him.  A healthy spiritual life and worship life will seek a balance in our postures.  

Why do we raise our hands? It is to show how we are inspired by the beautiful creations of our Creator while giving gratitude, we raised our hands to proclaim the strength, victory and the mysteries that we have over evil, and we raised hands to ask God to be of service to him. 

You can watch how the dancers react

In Indigenous dance, dancers also raise their hands in worship to God.  During a Pow Wow song, accented drum beats are called honor beats, the stronger, louder, and slower beats heard in the song. You can watch how the dancers react to the honor beats of the drum according to their style of dance and regalia. In any case, drummers and singers respond to the enthusiasm of the dancers in the circle. 

During the honor beats, dancers lift their feather fan to show their appreciation for the Creator’s blessings, bless the people, the earth, sky, some raise their staffs to the sky. Dancers acknowledge the honor beats in different ways according to their style of dance. 

Traditional Pow Wow Native American Traditional dancers wear long, beautiful buckskin dresses or trade cloth adorned with meaningful designs made from beads, quillwork, shells, and ribbon.  Pow wow drummers and singers provide the music to which the dancers move in cultural celebration of their heritage. 

I am mystified by the negativity

But many Christians find Indigenous dancing objectionable and irrelevant. To be honest, I am mystified by the negativity since our sacramental church embraces so many other art forms in our liturgies and churches. However, many records exist of prohibitions of dancing by leaders of most branches of the Christian Church, for such reasons as the association of dance with paganism including Traditional Pow Wow music.

Perhaps some offend Indigenous people and find Traditional Pow Wow music detestable and irrelevant because they do not understand the cultures and dances?

Even Paul when discussing with the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill found links rather than differences.  And he never ever told the philosophers they were evil.  Paul's writings are abounding with examples of his methods of contextualization.  He carried a universal message of good news that demonstrated people do not need to change their culture in order to find Christ. Jesus can be found and articulated equally in every culture of the world, including Indigenous people.

He never ever told the philosophers they were evil. 

We should aspire to never, by any word or deed of us, cause any impediment to these words of Christ and so that by all means he may save some.  It is never our own benefit that we seek, but always the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

Has not God also set eternity in the hearts of all Indigenous people?  Can we begin to see that when a dancer responds by raising their hand during an honor beat, it is part of a liturgical dance?  Perhaps God gave Indigenous people a life bound by ceremony, ritual, community, repetition, traditions, in order to show a special giving and receiving, of His grace.


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