Native American Dancers

Published on January 3, 2012 by Amy

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Native American Dancers
Native American Dancers

Native American dancers are a part of a very special art form within each culture. Many dances are performed for events, such as weddings, birthdays, and religious ceremonies. Some Native American dancers are needed simply to perform for fun and entertainment while others are needed to help protect and raise the harvest. The types of dances performed by the Native American dancers varied by the region in which they lived.

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The most famous dances for the western Arctic Native American dancers are drum dances performed to honor deceased relatives. On the other hand, western Washington and British Columbian Native Americans use the Spirit dance at potlatch or a community gathering to honor a host or celebrate family events such as marriages and births.

The Great Basin people dance the Bear Dance to ask for enough food for the tribe and the Sun dance to honor the Sun. The Pueblo Native American dancers of the Southwest have dances for farming and the need for water. The Native Americans of the Plains including the Blackfoot, Lakota, and Crow Native Americans, are well known for their powwow dances performed for recreation but have very specific rules and traditions to be upheld. The Northeast Iroquois Native American dancers have Social Dances that they perform in between sacred rituals and are often satirical and humorous. The Southeast Native American dancers are known for their exciting Creek Stomp Dance performed for the Green Corn ceremony each year.

Most dances no matter the region were performed either done by men alone or women alone. Many dances are done in a circle because Native American dancers believe that everything before, during, and after life is connected with no end as in a circle. These dances in large part are named after animals such as eagles, bears, and buffalo.

Source: native-net Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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