Collection 595 – Starr School Fancy Dancers Photographs, 1955
Creator: Taft, Laura Jane
Provenance Note: A set of 35mm transparencies with accompanying taped narration created by Laura and
Alfred Taft was donated to Montana State University by Helen Dresen of Cut Bank, Montana
Historical Note: Laura Jane Osborne was born on March 20, 1911 in Toston, Montana. She married Alfred W. Taft in 1933. Laura served as the superintendent of public schools in Glacier County, Montana and the couple lived in Cut Bank. Laura and her husband were particularly interested in Siksika culture and attended many of the performances of tribal “fancy dancers,” including the Starr School group which was active during the 1950s. Laura Jane died on March 4, 1993 and her husband Alfred died in 1994.
Fancy dance or Pan-Indian dancing is a style of dance some believe was originally created by members of the Ponca tribe in the 1920s and 1930s in an attempt to preserve their culture and religion. Fancy dance was considered appropriate to be performed for visitors in exhibitions, but today, fancy dancers can be seen at many powwows across the nation and even the world. They are performed by many different tribal groups including the Siksika.
Content Description Note: The Starr School Fancy Dancers multimedia presentation consists of fifty-seven 35mm transparencies with an accompanying audiotape reel. The narration, performed by Alfred Taft, is timed to indicate when to advance to the next slide. The images are of the Siksika Starr School Fancy Dancers, chosen to illustrate costumes and dancing techniques as they coordinate with the narration by Taft.