He Dreamed of 4 Jingle Dresses

100 years ago, an Ojibwe elder dreamed of four women wearing a beautiful new style of dress. They taught him the special songs they danced to and how to make the garments. He woke up and told his wife everything he had heard and seen. Together, they made four dresses, in yellow, green, blue and red using curled snuff can lids as the noise-making decorations across the torso and fringe. His wife was the first jingle dress dancer.

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The Jingle Dress at 100 Exhibit, Mille Lacs Indian Museum   Photo: R. Cuningham

Their granddaughter fell gravely ill with influenza. Her grandmother asked her to wear one of the special dresses they’d made to a pow-wow celebration. The first time around the circle, the grandparents carried her. The second, the girl walked with support. The third loop their granddaughter danced, suddenly and miraculously well. Their granddaughter lived a long full life.

American Indian ceremonial dancing was banned during the early 1900s in the US and Canada in an attempt to stamp out traditional Native religious beliefs and practices. But women continued to perform the jingle dress dance. In fact, it expanded when Dakota women adopted this Ojibwe custom as well. Today, the best dancers show their stuff at pow-wows across the United States and Canada. One of the most athletic dances for  women, the jingle dress dancers twist and turn to make a joyful noise with their movements.

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Jingle dress display at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum

Jingle dresses are a symbol of American Indian cultural resistance, spirituality and female empowerment.

What kind of dancing inspires you?

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! ¡Olé! –Rebecca

 

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11 thoughts on “He Dreamed of 4 Jingle Dresses

  1. This is my first time hearing of this type of dance. However, I must admit I have seen this type of dresses quite a lot. The history is very interesting, and makes me want to get one for myself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely 🙂 In my country, we always have a lot of cultural events that require us to wear traditional clothing that can be from our country or a different one to celebrate diversity. I now have another option to add 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Shana, well since I am a European American, and do not belong to an indigenous tribe, I would not wear the traditional sacred jingle dress of the Ojibwe tribe. Due to the spiritual, medicinal and religious meaning of the dress and the dance, it would not be appropriate to appropriate. I’d want to respect the sacred meaning of the dance and honor the culture of Native people. I imagine you might feel the same way. Hope you can see a pow wow some day!

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