Native American Women Dance!

By Marque Wilson, HOIST summer intern

Lolita dancing Women's Jingle
Lolita dancing Women’s Jingle

My sister Lolita dances Women’s Jingle at pow wows. She’s been doing it since she was little, and she still dances Jingle today. She’s now 29. She has a lot of outfits she’s made herself, and she uses them every time she dances. Jingle dancers use a fan made with eagle feathers, and have a special dress with metal cones or deer hooves, which is what makes the unique jingling sound when they dance. Jingle has a competition called the “Iron Man Jingle Special.” The Iron Man Jingle Special measures how long you can dance to songs. Whoever is the last person dancing wins, and some people can dance to five or six songs. Old Traditional Jingle is where you don’t use a fan, instead you use a scarf wrapped once around your hand. Side Step is a beat where you can dance on your tiptoes or with your feet flat on the ground. Jingle dancing incorporates two types of step, a regular and a side step. The dance itself is designed to incorporate the sound of the jingles by allowing them to move; that is, to make them jingle. The steps are controlled and do not involve high kicking or twirls, jingle is calm. Each foot should step down on each beat of the drum. Jingle is on the pow wow trial.

Lulu dancing Fancy
Lulu dancing Fancy

My two other sisters, Lulu and Regine, dance Fancy. Lulu is 28 and Regine is 20. Women’s Fancy is a fast-paced dance. It’s a workout to dance Fancy–dancing Fancy is on your tiptoes, and you feel light as a feather. Fancy Dance involves moving a lot on the dance floor and moving your arms around and twirling. You can do all kinds of moves while dancing Fancy. Fancy dancers dance to three songs–regular, foot slide, and crop hop. A foot slide is where you’re sliding your feet against the ground, and a crop hop is where you’re dancing and hopping. Fancy dancers dance like a butterfly or to look like a butterfly, and at least one foot should hit the ground with each drumbeat. Women’s Fancy shawl dancers wear capes, moccasins and leggings, and a decorated long fringed shawl. Their colorful shawls look like butterflies when they are dancing. Fancy is usually on the pow wow trial a lot.

Regine dancing Fancy
Regine dancing Fancy

My auntie and I dance Traditional. I do a regular Traditional dance, but my auntie dances high step. High step involves lifting your feet a little higher than regular traditional but then hitting the floor softly. High step regalia usually has a top beaded dress with short fringe anda fan made of eagle feathers. The Women’s Traditional Dance is the very oldest form of dance for women. Way back when they didn’t have Jingle or Fancy, it was just traditional. Traditional is a graceful dance, Traditional dancers dance three songs–regular, round dance, and foot slide. Round dance is a smooth dance, where you get in a circle and dance step by step on the beat of the drum, some dancers on stop on the drum beat and dance in one spot, and gracefully spin around and raise their fan. Mostly, Elder women dance Traditional when they can’t dance Fancy or Jingle, but some elders still dance Jingle and Fancy, just not as fast.

Me dancing Traditional

One thought on “Native American Women Dance!

  1. Are the Native North American dances rooted in tradition or are they a modern development? Specifically dances like the grass dance and spirit dances. When I attend a pow wow am I witnessing a traditional dance/song?
    I have been to a few pow wows around my area in North Florida and have witnessed a few dances. I had spoken with an associate of the pow wow and they were telling me how the dances can be portrayed and sometimes used as propaganda to promote tourism as well as monetary gain instead of representing tradition. I know the folks participating in the event are probably doing their best to keep traditions alive but I would like to get some more information on the subject.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s