As the world faces unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic, a call was made on social media for jingle dress dancers to dance for healing and prayer. Hundreds of dancers from across North America answered the call, posting videos of themselves dancing, and often ending with words of encouragement and prayer.
The jingle dress dance comes from the Ojibwe people and is known as a prayer dance. A history of the dance on powwows.com states:
“A medicine man’s granddaughter grew sick, and as he slept his spirit 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 tribe came together to watch her dance. At first, she was too sick to dance alone and so her tribe carried her, but after a little time she was able to dance alone, cured of her sickness.
It’s likely that the sickness she was experiencing was a part of the 1918 flu pandemic, which hit the Native American communities hard close to the Great Lakes. This was closely followed by a federal ban on ritual dancing in the 1920s on reservations. The dance has since been not only a dance of healing but also one of pride.”
Dancers from numerous tribal nations shared their style of jingle dress dance, and some danced inside their home, while others danced outdoors. The many videos shared on social media show the diversity among dance steps, regalia, and landscape. While some dancers lived in areas still covered in snow, other showcased clear skies and warm temperatures.
In all, each dancer’s message was clear—every step was a step in prayer for healing of all people around the world.