1996 32¢ Traditional Dance
American Indian Dances
Issue Date: June 7, 1996
City: Oklahoma City, OK
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Native Americans gather yearly at powwows to reaffirm their shared heritage in dance. Tribal dances have been combined to create four distinct Pan-Indian styles: Traditional, Fancy, Grass, and Jingle-dress.
The first dance performed at powwows honors the animals and birds of land and sky – the creatures that provided sustenance to the Native Americans’ forefathers. Indians in general, and Plains Indians in particular, survived by hunting, and believed animals willingly submitted themselves to the hunter. They were therefore duty-bound to honor animal spirits in dance. In the dramatic Traditional Dance, some dancers imitate the movements of animals and birds; others, the hunter.
Appropriately, the dress for the Traditional Dance features leggings, vests, and quivers made from deer and elk skins, decorated with porcupine quills, cowrie shells, and elk teeth. Headpieces and bustles (a semicircular display of feathers tied to the lower back or arms), adorned with eagle and hawk feathers or fur from otter, wolf, and other animals, make the dancers resplendent.
Women in long-fringed garments dance after the men. Following the rhythm of the drumbeat and chanted song, their movement and clothing portray the harmony between man and nature.