Nature of the Dance – Jingle Dress

During the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow held earlier this year at Busse Woods in Elk Grove, Illinois, I was able to capture some images of the dances performed in competition there.  The costumes were stunning and the dancing energetic and graceful. One of the more musical categories was the Jingle Dress dance.

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The Jingle Dress dance originated with the Ojibwa Nation in the early 1900’s and is thought to have healing powers.  The dresses are decorated with rolled snuff can lids which create the delightful bell-like sound as the dancer twists and turns. She also carries a feather fan and sometimes a beaded purse and wears beaded leggings and moccasins.

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The story behind the Jingle Dress Dance goes something like this: A father, whose young daughter was very ill, had a dream in which he was shown how to make a jingle dress and also instructed about a dance that was part of the healing ritual.  When he awoke he made the dress for his daughter and showed her how to do the dance. Despite the fact that she was so ill, she performed the dance wearing the jingle dress and the more she danced, the better she became until she was completely recovered.

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To see more pictures from the Powwow go to Weekly Photo Challenge – Quest

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