The very first time I went to a Native American Pow Wow, I remember walking through the grounds and being followed by a symphony of bells and wind chimes. When I looked around I was surprised to see a dancer in her Jingle dress right behind me.
The Jingle dress dance is a simple one. It is a ladies event and they jump up and down with their hands placed on their hips. It is mesmerizing to watch and so easy to get lost in the rhythm of the drums and metallic clink of the bells.
Saga (my model) says that each bell is hand made and sewn individually to the dress. There can be up to three hundred and sixty five bells, one for each day of the year. It’s extremely heavy! Imagine jumping around with all that metal on a hot summer day. Even so, Saga says that once she gets going, she slips in to a zone where all the discomfort disappears.
The Jingle dance is associated with healing qualities. The story goes that at the very first dance there was a sick little girl. The magic of the jingle dance roused her from her sickness and she awoke refreshed and cured.
For more history on the Jingle Dress, have a look at this documentary by PBS and produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
The Jingle Dress Dance is a popular and powerful tradition that has spread throughout America’s Native communities. Ojibwe elders offer stories of its beginnings and its healing powers, and musicians demonstrate the unique songs and rhythms of the dance. Produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.