Women and young girls across North America have begun to jingle dress dance in the face of COVID-19 on social media.
The dance is being performed on various media platforms across Canada and the United States to offer prayer for the world facing the pandemic.
The Jingle Dress dance is commonly seen in competitive powwows today, performed by indigenous women and girls. The dance began with a northern Anishnaabe nation in the early 1900s and became prevalent in the 1920s in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the US, and in Ontario in Canada. But its history has been intertwined with healing sine it’s beginning.
The story that is told tells that the dress was first seen in a dream. A man’s granddaughter grew sick and as he slept, guides came to him and told him to make a Jingle dress for her. They said if she danced in it the dress would heal her.
The Jingle dress was made, and the nation came together to watch her dance. At first, she was too sick to dance alone and so her nation carried her, but after a little time she was able to dance alone, cured of her sickness.
The dresses have metal cones stitched into rows or elaborate designs that jingle when the person moves and the dance gets its name from those rows of metal cones – called ziibaaska’iganan – attached to their dresses which make a distinctive sound as they dance. The Jingle Dress dance has a rich history, and there are few sights as mesmerizing as watching and hearing the women dance in their Jingle Dresses.
The shape and sound of the jingles is said to spread healing, whether dancing for one person or a whole nation.
The concept of ‘social distancing pow wows’ are continuing to grow, as even Six Nation Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services took to hosting an online smoke dance competition.