The Tribe hosts a contest Powwow where dancers must register to compete, are assigned numbers, and perform their dance for judges. Contest Powwows have various Native American dance styles including Women’s Jingle, Fancy Shawl Dance, Women’s Traditional, Men’s Fancy, Men’s Grass, and Men’s Traditional.
Dancer’s dresses in the Women’s Jingle are covered from head to foot in tin cones, and movements are bouncy and energetic. This causes the jingling of the dresses as the movement matches the beat of the drum, providing a constant rhythmic accompaniment to each song. Each step that these dancers take represents a prayer for a sick friend or relative, and to be a jingle dress dancer, you must have dreamt about being one. The dress is made of cloth and is covered in 365 cones – each representing a prayer for each day of the year. When she dances, she uses her fan in a sweeping motion to wave away sickness.
Fancy Shawl Dance
This exuberant and delightful dance represents the life of a butterfly, and is unquestionably the flashiest of the women’s dancing styles. The dresses and decorative beaded accessories are vividly colorful and match the most outstanding feature of these dancers’ outfits, the shawls. These graceful, brightly-fringed shawls drape the young women’s shoulders and perfectly compliment the twirling, prancing, pirouetting steps of this showy, high-spirited dance. The word “fancy” in the name of this dance actually refers to the footwork, not the shawl.
The Women’s Traditional dance is a slower, more tranquil dance. Although the women may move slowly about the circle of the arena, often they will simply stand in the same place as they rhythmically dip and sway to the beat of the drummers. Dancer’s are dressed in heavily and elaborately decorated outfits, and may be sewn of buckskin leather or of various types of fabric. Beadwork and sometimes porcupine quills, elk ivory and cowry shells adorn the outfit. Their colors tend to be gentler and more subdued compared to those of other women’s dance styles.
With its rapid tempo and high power, Men’s Fancy dance may be one of the most easily recognizable Ojibwe Dance’s. Colorful and distinctive regalia features two very large, vividly colored double bustles, worn on the dancer’s back. Smaller bustles may also be worn on the arms as well as brightly colored bead work and accessories. With quick but graceful steps, the men in this dance are some of the most energetic of all the powwow dancers.
Similar to the Men’s Fancy, the Men’s Grass dance is easily recognizable by its striking regalia. Dancers are covered shoulder to ankle in long, thick flows of bright, multicolored cloth fringe that is made to represent grass. This dance is fittingly named, and it symbolizes the young men of western tribes who were to stomp down the tall grass of the plains so the people could use the area. What originally started out as sweet grass hung from the regalia is now long, flowing yarn fringe. Dance movements in the Men’s Grass are also distinctive for their sliding, shaking and spinning motion, rather than the high, kicking steps of the fancy dancer.
Traditional dancing is an opportunity for men to dance in the way of their fathers and grandfathers. A traditional dancer’s regalia likely reflects tribal affiliation, and their ensemble may frequently include pieces handed down for generations within the family. These may range from a look of dignified simplicity to dramatically elaborate. A traditional dance style is not as flashy and exuberant as other men’s styles, but more elaborate, expressive and powerful – similar to the outfit itself