Men’s Grass Dance

Photo Top: Grass dancers wear long fringe that sways like grass. Darwin Goodwill, Dancer.
Marmar Photograph

The stories told in Western Canada are that the grass dance originated with the Dakota and Lakota peoples. When Sitting Bull came north a er the Battle of Little Big Horn, his people brought this dance with them and shared it with the tribes of Southern Saskatchewan. As the origin story was told, a warrior scout party would be sent ahead to find places to hunt, gather food and set up camp. They were the bravest and sleekest warriors.

When they found the camp site they held a dance to make it safe for the people to join them there. Men’s Grass Dance is a sway dance, where dancers move like the grass. It is for the most limber warriors as the movements are low and use all of the body’s joints. Dancers repeat movements on each side of their bodies to keep themselves, their thoughts and their lives balanced.

Grass dancers do not wear a bustle. Note the intricate cloth work and beadwork on dancer Nathan Mitsuing.
Marmar Photography

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Head Roach
Yahsti Perkinskiller

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Beadwork
Coralie Nepoose

Women’s Fancy Dance

Photo Top: Kenisha Roan, Dancer

A modern dance, the Women’s Fancy Shawl dance has its origins in the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960’s. Each region will have a different story to tell. In the American mid-west, women who started dancing in the centre of the arena like the men, faced boos and jeers. Nevertheless, they persisted. In Saskatchewan, powwows of the 1960’s and 70’s did not have a grand entry, allowing the women to dance early on in the powwow.

The dance and the regalia have evolved since the 1970’s. Women first wore buckskin and a shawl and kept their arms tucked in close. Today dresses are made of fancy cloth, capes have joined the shawls and more beadwork and fringe has been added. The dance has fast intricate footwork while smoothly fanning their shawls outwards.

Junior girls fancy dancers

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Beadwork
Alexandrea Pasquayak

Women’s Traditional Dance

Photo Top: Chelsa Bull, Women’s Traditional Dancer. Dancers use their
shoulders to make the fringe of the dress fringe sway.
Marmar Photography

Traditionally women did not dance at powwow, as powwows usually took place after a hunt, battle or victory. Women started to become more involved when they stood outside of the ceremony circle, supporting the men. Their dresses are long with fringe that sweeps the ground as they dance, connecting them to mother earth. The women are the protectors of the circle, keeping an eye out for danger while they watch to make sure everything is in order in their community.

Women’s traditional dance is a slower dance, a basic step and shoulder movement that creates a swaying motion while moving forward. The regalia is made in a more traditional design style following historic patterns.

Krista Goodwill and Kaleigh Starblanket, Women’s Traditional Dancers.
Marmar Photography

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck

Beadwork and Buckskin Dress
Nita McAdam

Quilled Breast Plate
Kendra Roan

Women’s Jingle Dance

Photo Top: Osamuskwasis Roan is dacing the Contemporary Women’s Jingle. Notice
Osamuskwasis has a feather in her hair and a fan in the air and dances in an upward motion.
Marmar Photography

The jingle dress and dance is an Ojibwe healing dance that originated with the Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) First Nation in Northern Ontario. A young girl, Maggie White, became ill and her grandfather had a dream in which he prayed for a way to heal her. In the dream four ladies came to him wearing dresses with cones on them that sounded like rain when they moved. He was told that if he created these dresses and the ladies would dance, his granddaughter would be healed. He made the dresses and the women from his family danced for the girl and over time she began to heal.

There are 365 metal cones representing 365 days of the year on a jingle dress. The dancers do a side-step movement and are supposed to stay in a line. Jingle Dress dancers don’t pass each other as they dance, as they don’t want to break the healing circle.

Did You Know?

Shelda Thom, the knowledge keeper for the Jingle Dress video is a descendent of Maggie White.

Teen girl dancing Old Style Women’s Jingle. In Old Style you don’t hold a fan or
wear a feather in your hair. The dance motion is to lean down.
Marmar Photography

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Beadwork
Marrisa Mitsuing

Men’s Fancy Dance

Photo Top: The bustles circular pattern represents a battlefi eld. Bustles are not
worn into battle as they would be impractical. Bustles are worn a er battle during
the celebratory war dances. The feathers on the bustle can include eagle, hawk,
buzzard, turkey and sometimes owl. These birds feast on the enemy a er battle.
Jarron Gadwa, Dancer. Marmar Photograp

The men’s Fancy Dance is a modern fast dance originating in Oklahoma. Two tribes, the Ponca and the Comanche, met on the battlefield where the Comanche, who had horses, defeated the Ponca’s who did not. A truce was called. The Ponca gifted the Comanche with bows and arrows. Recognizing the significance of this gift , the Comanche gave the Ponca horses. When they came back from this meeting they had a Powwow to celebrate. The horses started to dance to the songs, so the dancers mimicked the movement of the horses with speed and agility.

Historically, this dance also has its roots in American Wild West shows. With the Indian Removal Act in the United States, tribes were being pushed into Oklahoma and their way of life was being taken away. Promoters, Buffalo Bill Cody and Pawnee Bill, brought young men east to perform “war” dances for European spectators. The young men would wear the traditional war regalia but would perform a slower dance. They could not perform the war dances because those are reserved for people who have gone to war. Instead, they performed the fancy dance of the horse. The traditional regalia frightened the spectators, so the men started to wear bright colours.

Fancy dancers compete against the drum. The drummers sing a song in
four parts, challenging the dancers to stop on the last beat.
Marmar Photography

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Head Roach
Yahsti Perkinskiller

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Beadwork
Marrisa Mitsuing

Men’s Traditional Dance

Photo Top: Note the distinctive face paint on this Traditional Dancer.
Marmar Photography

Men’s traditional dance tells the stories of battles, hunts and victories. Traditionally when warriors came home from battle, they would share the stories of brave and courageous acts. The dance includes some key movements that visually tell the stories. The ‘sneak up’, shows how the dancer ‘sneaked up’ to the enemy. The ‘duck and dive’, shows how they avoided getting hit by arrows when under attack. Moving quickly forward they show how they charge the enemy.

As one story told by Tommy Christian goes, it is against nature to take another’s life, and the dances the men would enact show how they ‘counted coup’ on the enemy. To count coup is to sneak up and give a significant bump on the head of a member of an opposing tribe with a coup stick. In lieu of killing them you humiliated them. They would have to tell their tribe who had hit them over the head. The successful warrior would then re-enact how they counted coup on the enemy, demonstrating that they brought honour to themselves, their family and the tribe.

Traditional Dancers wear one bustle.
Marmar Photograpy

Artisans

Beadwork & Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Head Roach
Yahsti Perkinskiller

Featherwork
Eric Mentuck, Donny Mac

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Men’s Chicken Dance

Photo Top: Clyde Tootoosis, Jr., Dancer.
Marmar Photography.

Kitokipaaskaan:
Kii-too-kii-puskan, Blackfoot;
Prairie Chicken Dance

The Men’s chicken dance originates from the Blackfoot people. A hunter heard low thumping sounds and came across prairie chickens performing a strange ritual. He killed the prairie chicken and brought it back for his family to eat. That night, the prairie chicken came to him in a dream asking why did the hunter kill him during the prairie chicken’s sacred dance. The man explained that his family was hungry. The prairie chicken

understood and told the hunter that the Blackfoot needed to honour the life of the prairie chicken or he would take the hunter’s life. The Chicken Dance is a slow mating dance to show-off and say ‘look at me.’ On the head roach, they wear pheasant tail feathers that represent the antennae or ears of the prairie chicken. The small round bustle worn by dancers is known as the Crow belt. Crow dancers brought this bustle to the dance. Drummers will hit the rim of the wooden drum to pick a beat similar to the sound of the prairie chicken.

Photo Above: Jackson Tahuka, Dancer.
Marmar Photograph

Artisans

Accessories
Curtis Miller Joe

Head Roach
Yahsti Perkinskiller

Featherwork
TJ Warren, Eric Mentuck

Cloth work
Emery-rose Assiniboine

Beadwork
Morning Dove Kytwayha

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