For Visitors > Regalia & Dance Styles
The dancers' outfits or clothing, commonly known as regalia, are all handmade from various natural and synthetic materials. These may include sinew, yarn, cloth and hides. Friends and family members often help in the design and construction of an individual's regalia rendering it unique and very special. Often regalia displays elements that are important to the identity of the dancer, such as the dancer's clan. Please remember that a dancers' clothing is called "regalia" or "outfit", and not a "costume".
Six dance categories exist within the Powwow. Among the men there are Traditional, Grass, and Fancy, and among the women there are Traditional, Jingle Dress, and Fancy Shawl. Both styles of dress and dance indicate a dancer's category.
Men's Traditional - Telling of former war or hunting expeditions, these dancers preserve the old way of dancing. Through a combination of graceful and dramatic gestures, the traditional dancer tells his story. These men wear exquisite beadwork and feathers that are characteristic to their particular nation.
Men's Grass - Several tribes remember the Grass Dance as being part of the preparation in making a clearing for ceremony. The regalia is decorated with hanks of long, multi-colored fringes which sway gracefully with the movement of the dancers bodies reminiscent of the long, blowing grasses of the prairie.
Men's Fancy - Known for their stamina, high jumps, and quick footwork, fancy dancers literally dazzle. Their outfits are constructed of two multi-colored bustles (worn around the neck and back), matching bead work, and whips which are held to emphasize the elaborate gestures of these spirited dancers.
Women's Traditional - These dignified women are admired for the respectful manner in which they dance. Their feet never completely leave the ground, symbolizing their close connection to Mother Earth. Their regalia ranges from intricately sewn ribbon-work cloth dresses to beaded hide dresses. Most are covered with cowrie shells, elk teeth, silver, and other decorative objects. These women are referred to as the "backbone" of our nation.
Women's Jingle Dress - Based upon a young Ojibwe woman's dream, the Jingle Dress dance is considered a healing dance. Jingle Dress dancers are often called upon to dance for a sick or injured community member. Traditionally, 365 metal cones are secured on the dress representing each day of the year and a prayer is put into each cone. During the honor beats of a song, the Jingle Dress dancer uses her fan to spread the prayers into the four directions as the prayers are released from the "dancing cones."
Women's Fancy Shawl - Compared to butterflies, these light-footed dancers wear brightly colored shawls over their shoulders. Legend says that the young ladies and their shawls represent the transition from a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly. Beadwork and accessories match the multi-fringed shawls, creating a splendor of spinning and fancy footwork.