The Essential Guide To Different Types Of Native American Ceremonial Dances

The history of Western civilization is filled with colonization. If people were to take a moment and examine their country’s history, they would find that their ancestry includes a mixture of cultures. In the United States, one will find a ‘mish-mash’ of English, Irish, African, and Native American backgrounds.

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As the year’s progress and we are talking about several centuries, the cultures merge to form unique personalities. For example, Africans who traveled across the seas have a genealogy in African American cultures where the individual speaks with an American accent but is dark of skin. Another example is the presence of the Europeans and their white skin tone with an American accent resulting in the ‘white’ American.

Unfortunately, one culture is slowly being removed from the United States community. This culture is the Native American culture and is the original culture of the country. Luckily, the remaining Native Americans who present with mixed backgrounds continue to promote their Native roots, so if you talk to a guy from one of them you will get a lot of informaton. This article will discuss the use of ceremonies to promote and enforce the presence of this civilization. Keep in mind that this article has no intention of discrimination against any individuals living in the United States of America or elsewhere and should not be viewed as such.

•    The Stomp Dance

The first form of cultural expression is the stomp dance. A tradition typically practised by the Chickasaw Tribe of Okla, the stomp dance is used to request items from the tribe’s ritualistic Creator. It begins with the ground leader announcing that he will be leading the dance. The leader is most commonly the leader of the tribe. 

Once the leader is announced, he or she will head towards the ceremonial fire shaking a rattle or shell shaker. Followed by the rest of the people, the men and women will alternate in the line and stomp their feet wearing rattles around their ankles. A rhythm song is sung as the members of the ceremony follow the leader clockwise around the ceremonial fire.

As the members walk around the fire, a conversation is held between the leader and the male members of the tribe. The leader will call out requests, and the men will respond in song as if they were the Creator responding to the request. Legend states that whatever is requested from the Creator will be brought to fruition four days later.  

•    The Ghost Dance

The ghost dance is a ceremonial dance performed by all Native American tribes and is associated with the symbolization of Earth regeneration. Unlike other ceremonial dances, this type of performance is relatively unstructured and requires only that the members move in a manner that will awaken their deceased ancestors’ spirits. The movement in the manner of a deceased spirit is important as it will prompt a communication with the loved one.

The ghost dance is most commonly used among members who have recently lost relatives. It has been noted as a means of giving individual’s closure, despite the fear of facing the death of the loved one. It was first performed when Native Americans were killed by American soldiers at the Battle of the Wounded Knee.