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Lakota Powwow Dance Styles

Traditional Dance
Male Traditional Dancers combine drama and grace to tell their stories. Their dances are primarily those of the warrior hunting or searching for enemies.

Regalia is made from natural material and is not as brightly colored as other dancers. Some regalia takes years to complete; some is handed down through a family and is over 100 years old.

Women's Traditional Dance is sometimes called straight dancing. Like men's traditional, there are many regalia variations. However, regalia is usually made from natural materials like buckskin. A colorful fringed shawl is sometimes carried over one arm, and an eagle feather fan is usually carried in the other hand. The female traditional dancer has a very dignified look. Her movements are slight but regal.

Fancy Dance
Male Fancy Dancers wear heavily beaded regalia adorned with brightly colored feathers. Often, they use face and leg paint. Many carry a dance stick, hoops or other items in their hands. Fancy dancers are known for their stamina, high jumps, quick footwork and beautiful regalia.

Female Fancy Shawl Dance is similar in style and brightness to men's fancy dance. The women's fancy shawl dance is the newest form of dancing and was first practiced by northern tribes. The principle feature of this regalia is the brightly colored shawl worn over the shoulders. The long fringe hanging from the shawl's edges flies around the dancer as she jumps and spins to the music.

Grass Dance
Grass Dance evolved from an Omaha warrior society. The boys regalia is unique because it has almost no feathers. Regalia consists of a shirt and trousers with fringe attached.

Today, the fringe is made of long pieces of colorful yarn; originally the fringe was made from the long prairie grass native to this part of the country.

Legend says, before beginning a  powwow (wacipi), young boys were sent out to tramp down and smooth tall grass in the area of the celebration. They tied the grass onto themselves and imitated the swaying movement of the grass as the breeze blew across the prairie.

Jingle Dress Dance
Jingle Dress Dance has been termed 'jingle' for the metallic clacking noise the dress makes when in movement. Traditionally, cones shaped from chewing tobacco lids were positioned on masterfully-designed dresses.

Originally, the jingle dress dancers were called upon to dance for a sick or injured community member; the dance was revered a healing dance.