I would like to share a few more images taken at the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow. The costumes and dances were of particular interest to me and luckily the weather was perfect for bringing out all the colors on display.
One of the categories in competition dancing is Fancy. The dance originated in Oklahoma and requires considerable agility and endurance. The costumes certainly live up to the name, being extremely elaborate with feathers, ribbons, bells and all kinds of brightly-colored accoutrements. It is said that the dance may represent warriors preparing for battle.
Although not quite so flamboyant, the costumes worn for the Men’s Northern Traditional dance are still considerably ornamented and are most impressive. The costume may include an Eagle feather bustle, bone bead breastplate, leggings, beaded moccasins and ankle bells. The dancer sometimes carries an Eagle feather fan, pipe bag or dance stick and paints his face to represent a traditional family or national emblem.
There are several different interpretations of the dance which is thought to either represent a warrior recounting his feats in battle or searching for his enemy while other stories mention a hunting or gathering role. Some of these dancers look quite fearsome so I’m guessing it has more to do with the fighting aspect.
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.
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.
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.