Jingle dress dance is a type of dancing observed in powwow competitions and is usually performed by women and girls of American native communities. The dance initially originated from the ojibewea tribe and then became popular among the nearby tribes. Seeing the women and girls dance could make one feel very mesmerized and the unique sounds produced by the metal cones add to the enjoyment. Its name is acquired from the metal cones attached to the dresses called ziibaaska’iganan which produce unique sounds. The story tells that the dress was seen at first by a medicine man to whom the spirit guides revealed the dress to in his dreams.
When the man was dreaming about the dress, his granddaughter had a disease and the spirit guides said the man should make a jingle dress for the girl. At the time it was invented, the American native communities had been hit with a pandemic flu which was most likely the disease the girl was infected with. He was told that if the girl was to dance while wearing the jingle dress, she would get healed of the disease. Once the dress was made, the community came together so they could witness the girl dancing but they had to help her since she was weak. As the girl danced, she got cured and was able to dance on her own which really shocked the people gathered. Apart from being used for healing, the dress has also been used by the community for pride.
People can enjoy watching the women and girls of all ages performing the jingle dress dance in ceremonies and competitions. Snuff can lids are the materials used to make the metal cones which are then attached closely resulting to melodic sounds as the cones bump on each other. Although the dress was hand made in the past it is now produced by machines that can make them more attractive. A wide range of colors can be utilized to design the dress and also other items such as beadings and fringes used to decorate the dress. Dancers use thick leather belts to fasten the dress round their waist because it is long enough to reach the ankles.
Dancers usually wear matching moccasins designed using similar pattern and design as the dress on their feet. Amazing sounds are produced as metal cones hit each other and for the sounds and drums to go together, dancers have to move in time with the drums. The zigzag motions are to represent the common challenges and situations people experience during their life journey. The dance was performed by sick people thus the reason for keeping their feet low. The northern drum groups and certain music accompanies the jingle dress dance.