Native American Chants & Dances

Dances, songs and chants have played a major role in the culture of Native Americans. Stories and histories have been passed from generation to generation by voice as well as movement, rather than by written word. Dances are performed for a variety of reasons and usually are danced by either women or men only. Chants have special meanings and can last for hours or days. At the center of dance and song is the drum, which traditionally connects Native Americans to their Creator.

  1. Significance of Dance

    • Younger Native Americans have embraced dance.
      Younger Native Americans have embraced dance.

      Throughout history, Native Americans have kept their culture vibrant and meaningful through the power of dance. Different dances have different purposes, from telling a story to honoring an animal to performing a sacred ceremony. Today, social dances serve as a way to make dancing relevant to younger Native dancers.

    Types of Dancing

    • Native women have special dances.
      Native women have special dances.

      Most dances are performed in a circle, as the circle symbolizes a long and continuous life without end. Some dances are named for animals, such as the Bear Dance performed by the Utes, Shoshones and Paiutes. The Hopi Snake Dance is performed as part of a ceremony designed to bring rain. Most dances are performed either by only men, or only women. The Fancy Shawl Dance is performed by women and symbolizes the beauty of new life by mimicking the graceful movements of a butterfly.

    Origins of Chanting

    • The traditions, histories and songs of ancient Native Americans have been passed down by spoken word as opposed to the written page. Songs and chants have told this history, whether by Native American men singing of battle victories or hunting, or by Native American women singing songs to their children, singing while preparing a meal or hoping to bring magic to their blankets.

    Occasions for Chanting

    • Some songs are sacred.
      Some songs are sacred.

      Singing and chanting can carry different messages for different occasions, such as social gatherings, thanksgiving, love songs, lullabies, honor or memorials. Many songs are reserved for private occasions or for certain settings. For instance, a healing song is not intended to be sung on a public stage, and there are certain tribal songs that are not appropriate for the general public. Social songs are performed in public for thanksgiving, honor, memorials, and social gatherings.

    What You Hear

    • Chants can last for days.
      Chants can last for days.

      A traditional Native American chant or song can last for hours or days, and can be sung both with words and vocables. Vocables are syllables that have as much meaning as words to the singer. Singing styles vary with region and are influenced by factors such as tribal traditions, the environment, other groups, personal experiences and messages from the Creator.

    The Role of the Drum

    • The drum is central to Native American pow wows.
      The drum is central to Native American pow wows.

      The drum is instrumental to the culture of the Native American and a centerpiece of a pow wow. The drum helps everyone attending the pow wow to achieve balance and feel the heartbeat of the Earth Mother. By way of the drum, people can connect with the Spirit, whether dancing, singing or just listening. Singers who sit around the drum must focus on the meaning of the songs and keep the beat steady. Traditionally, women do not sit at the drum nor do they beat it, though they can sit in behind the male singers.

Related Searches

References

  • Photo Credit native american powwow image by windzepher from Fotolia.com indian dancer girls image by kastock from Fotolia.com Dancing image by michael langley from Fotolia.com Indian Headress image by Stormy Ward from Fotolia.com indian tepees image by Jeff from Fotolia.com little drum from wood image by Dev from Fotolia.com

You May Also Like

  • How to Chant Like the Cherokee

    Native American Chants & Dances; How to Do the Native American Turtle Dance; What Feathers Mean to the Cherokee; Comments. Related Ads....

  • How to Perform a Native American Rain Dance

    Native American Chants & Dances; How to Do the Native American Turtle Dance; Comments View all 26 Comments. 848530127 Aug 23, 2012....

  • How to Find Grants for Native Americans

    If you're Native American, and you'd like to attend school, start a business build a home or something else but you just...

  • Native American Wedding Themes

    Paying tribute to a Native American culture during your wedding reception might bring together two different families into one natural celebration of...

  • About the Indian Rain Dance

    How to Perform a Native American Rain Dance; Native American Chants & Dances; How to Perform a Raindance; Comments View all 10...

  • How to Chant a Mantra for Healing

    Mantras are words or sounds used in spiritual practice. The term "mantra" is created from the Sanskrit words "man," which translates to...

  • History of the Native American Eagle Dance

    The Native American Eagle dance performed by Indian tribes consists of movements that emulate an eagle. ... the eagle has a symbolic...

  • Native American Dances for Kids

    Native American children learn to dance by watching the adults. ... Native American Chants & Dances; Clothing & Traditions of Indian Women;...

  • Wild Orchids Crafts

    Bear Dance Craft. Indians of the Great ... Wild Orchids Crafts. Crayon Blackout Craft. State Fair Craft Project. Native American Jewelry Crafts...

  • How to Remember the Greek Alphabet

    Often for non-native Greek speakers, learning the Greek alphabet is difficult because of its differences from the American alphabet. ... Write a...

  • Cherokee Indian Customs for How Men Become Warriors

    The Cherokee Nation is a Native American tribe that originally existed in the Southern Appalachian ... How to Chant Like the ......

  • Native American Ceremonial Dances

    Native American Ceremonial Dances. Native American ceremonial dances often have a ritualistic or religious significance. ... Native American Chants & Dances.

  • Native American Dance History

    Rhythmic, soul-enriching dance lives deeply within the heart of the Native-American culture. Unlike modern-day existence, where dance may be viewed simply as...

  • The History of the Indian War Dance

    The Native American Eagle dance performed by Indian tribes consists of movements that emulate an eagle. ... How to Perform a Native...

Related Ads

View Blog Post

5 Tips for Traveling With Your Significant Other Without Killing Each Other