The traditional style of dance where you’ll see the one
single bustle on the back. It’s a much slower version
where is more solemn, more respectful. Each warrior you’ll
see sometimes integrate war paint on their face.
Their style of headdress may vary a little bit but, in essence, they’re telling a story with the use of their
or the use of their fan, expresses a story as they dance.
As they feel the
music they will try to tell a story maybe of either tracking the
enemy or perhaps tracking some deer or buffalo on a hunt.
Traditional Dancer, Cree):
It’s a display of yourself and your motion, your
feeling and your spirit that takes you into a journey of being a warrior
and you display your actions in battle and you display
your being a protector and a provider for your tribe.
Certain people have their own unique style of dancing and
when they dance to the beat of the drum
they just kind of go down and kind of look, you know,
communicating some of the old time chicken dances
and they kind of watch out, kind of watch for the enemy,
kind of looking out - ready for action, kind of always being on
The ladies traditional style of dance was a solemn
dance. There are two different styles. One is what they call the
stationary style where they’ll dance in one place in
time with the beat of the
drum. On the honor beat you’ll see them using their fan,
acknowledging the spirit world as they raise it on the downbeat.
The other style is what they call the stylized walk. It’s
kind of basically walking flat-footed keeping time with the beat
of the drum and swaying
their fringe, their shawl or their dress fringe in time
with the beat of the drum.
Anne Anquoe: They
say women’s dance
is graceful; well, I don’t like the word graceful walk because
we’re dancing hard as we can.
You get out of breath, you get tired.
When I get in that arena, get ready, there’s only good
thoughts. By any means are you out there to say I want people look
at me, I’m out here, I’m dancing, you know, you just feel so
great. You took a lot of time and care into dressing.
LADD: The oldest of all
the powwow styles of dance today is the grass dance. The grass
dance originated amongst the Omaha people of the Central
SCABBY ROBE: It’s one of
the most sacred dances that we have. And what they did is they
took grass like this. They rolled it up like this and then they
tied it, they wrapped the grass around. And they would make about
4, maybe 6, and they would tuck them under their belts here and
they would send them out either to scout for buffalo or scouting
for enemy. If they
needed to build fire, if they were cold , they would use this and
they would set a fire. Also it was used for protection. They would
take this because Mother Earth is sacred to us.
dance a long time grass and I was probably one of the few that
held onto this dance. In
the old days it was different. The dancers, it was much footwork,
there was no spinning, just a lot of weaving. You weave like the
grass. When you’re
dancing you symbolize that like you see the grass moving. How
beautiful. When you
go into the prairies, if you can go in the prairies with the long
grass you’ll see that when it blows and sometimes if you look at
it from a distance you can see it waving. The Grass Dance today is
much more like fancy dance. There’s a lot of spinning and there’s
a lot of other things that they do that original Grass Dancers don’t
And the ladies style of dance the oldest is perhaps what
we call the jingle dress style of dance. This originated among the
Ojibwa people of the Great Lakes. The use of
the metal snuff can covers were used
as a medicinal dance to ward off many of the bad spirits.
Dancer, Cherokee, Scataway):
They’re called jingles and made out of snuff can lids.
They’re curled. There should be 365 jingles on a dress
representing the days of the year and 7 rows on a dress for the 4
directions, for the sky, Earth and for, you know, the spirit
There is a basic step but then everybody has their
own originality and they come up with their, you know, own style
and it’s basically to really look graceful and try and do
intricate footwork and, of course, to raise your fan during the
honor beats and, of course, to stop
when the drum stops, the last beat, and you
try and make your outfit, you know, original.
like to dance. It makes you feel good and you also dance to make other
people feel good and there might be people who feel sick or their spirits
are low so you try and dance to make people happy and feel good.
Next we have the fancy shawl dance which was created
in the early 1960’s. This
is basically when women’s lib came to Indian country when women
start copying, utilizing motions and actions of many of the
younger men such as the fancy dance. By draping a shawl over their
shoulders, they would use this fringe as a way to, again, catch
the judge’s eye but also use it as an extension of their body to
express their story, much like you would see a butterfly, an eagle
as it flies through the heavens.
LADD: The men’s fancy
dance was created as
a result, a direct result of a lot of the Buffalo Bill Wild West
Shows that toured overseas. And searching for
something that was more spectacular, they started adding
more and more feathers.
WHITECLOUD: Iit was
like the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and Indians would come out
and chase the stagecoach and there’d be a fight between the
cavalry and the Indians. And the Indians would get off their
horses and dance, and the more that they danced fancy the more the
crowd liked it from the traditional steps.
Fancy dance is anything
goes, and there’s two sets of bustles. One set of bustles here,
one set of bustles here, and they go for fanciness -
anything that’s shiny and glimmering and fantastic. It’s
a free-for-all. Once you get the basic steps down
and you get your footwork then you come up with your own
dance exemplifies speed, agility, degree of difficulty, the color.
You’ll se a lot of fluorescence used in the
regalia today to
gather the judge’s eye