Jingle Dress Dancing – A Beautiful Native American Tradition

jingle dress dance

If you have ever been to a pow-wow or seen an exhibition of Native American culture, you have probably admired the dancers and their beautiful regalia (traditional clothing). Although each tribe has its own unique dances, traditional clothing, and other special practices, there are some women’s dance traditions that are seen widely across the USA such as shawl dancing and jingle dress dancing.

Since jingle dresses are so beautiful and unique, I thought I would share a bit more about them to start our celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

How Did Jingle Dress Dancing Begin?

jingle dress dancing

The original tradition of the jingle dress is from the Ojibwa people. It is said that an elderly man had a daughter who was sick. He had tried every way he knew to heal her. At last, he slept and dreamed one night and was told to make his daughter a dress of jingles. This was how she would be healed. The man listened and created this unique dress and it healed his child!

The first jingle dresses were very plain (like the brown one seen here from the Museum of History in Missouri) and the dance done at that time was very quiet and solemn. It was considered something sacred and it was done slowly and with great respect.

As time went on, the tradition grew in popularity and the design of the jingle dress and the footwork associated with it changed. Modern jingle dresses are often bright and colorful and are cut to accommodate fancier dance moves such as turning full circles, dancing backward and crossing the feet.

You can see some of those modern dresses and fancy dance moves here.

What Are The Jingles?

jingle dress dance

What are the cones that jingle on a jingle dress? They are actually made from the gold or silver metal tops of tobacco containers. These tops are pressed flat then rolled into cones. The cones are sewn onto a cloth dress. As the young girl or the woman dances, the cones strike each other making a beautiful percussion sound that becomes part of the rhythm of the dance.

Who Dances?

In most Native American communities – everyone dances. From the youngest child to the oldest member of the community, everyone who is able finds a way to make it into the dance ring. It’s an honor to dance and a relative will often make your special regalia for you. For many young people, dancing is also competitive. There are often contests at pow-wows for specific dance categories, such as fancy dance, shawl dance or jingle dress.

If You Visit A Pow-Wow – Can You Dance, Too?

If you’ve seen a public notice of a pow-wow then the event is open to anyone (some pow-wows are closed community-only events). Guests at a public pow-wow can often participate in specific dances during the event. The best way to know what to do is to listen to the pow-wow’s Master of ceremonies (MC) carefully. He’ll tell you when there’s a special dance that invites children or adults into the dance ring.

Where Can You Find Jingles?

Are you intrigued by this tradition and want to find jingles or see more styles of jingle dress regalia? The best source is the Crazy Crow Native Trading Post.

Find jingles cones and lids HERE. View a Jingle Dress regalia photo gallery HERE.

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Native American Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. Find our full schedule of posts below, and don’t forget to link up your own as well! We’re also having a giveaway (details coming soon!) Don’t miss our series from last year, 2015, and 2014, plus you can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Native/Indigenous Cultures on Pinterest.

November 3
Tiny Tapping Toes on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Jingle Dress Dancing

November 6
Crafty Moms Share on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts about the Wopânâak (Wampanoag) Nation

November 13
Crafty Moms Share

November 15
La Clase de Sra. DuFault

November 17
Kid World Citizen on Multicultural Kid Blogs

November 20
All Done Monkey

November 24
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes on Multicultural Kid Blogs

November 27
Creative World of Varya

Native American Heritage Month Giveaway

Native American Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Grand Prize

From MotherTongues: Himdag T-shirt, women’s or unisex, S-XL, US/Canada Shipping Only
From Abrams Books: Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bird Girl, In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, and The Star People, US/Canada Shipping Only

Native American Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1st Prize

From Wisdom Tales Press: Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days, Indian Boyhood: The True Story of an Indian Upbringing, Whispers of the Wolf, Horse Raid: The Making of a Warrior, US Shipping Only

Native American Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

2nd Prize

From Penguin Kids: I Am Sacagawea, US Shipping Only
From Quarto: Path to the Pacific, US Shipping Only
From Kid World Citizen: Machu Pichu Lesson Plan (English and Spanish versions)


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Chief Inspirational Officer at World Music With DARIA
Educator and world music children's performer DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has spent over two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children. Along with numerous national awards for her culturally diverse music, Daria’s website (www.dariamusic.com) was given a Parent’s Choice Award and offers many great resources for teachers, parents and kids of all abilities.

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