The Jingle Dress Dance is a healing dance performed by Indian women at Pow Wows. The jingle refers to the sound made by hundreds of small round pieces of tin rolled into cones that are sewed onto the dress of the dancer. As the dancer moves, these jingles hit one another and create a melodious tinkling sound.
There are several popular stories about the orgin of the Jingle Dance. One legend says the dance originated with the Ojibwe tribe in Canada, where an elder who was ill and dying had a dream about a healing dress. He instructed his wife to make the dress and dance in it at the next pow wow, where it healed him and saved his life. There are variations to this story, some where the dreamer was a woman, and some where four women appeared to the man. The other main story of the orgin of the Jingle Dress Dance is that an Indian woman and several of the women of her tribe had quit drinking alcohol after a long bout with alcoholism. The woman wanted a way to show their pride in the accomplishment. She hit on the idea of making cones out of Copenhagen snuff lids, sewing them to a dress, and dancing in the upcoming pow wow. The women sewed one jingle on the dress for each day they went without drinking alcohol. Hence, a Jingle Dress could contain up to 365 cones.
Whatever the orgin of this dance, it is now part of most pow wows, and is a very beautiful and popular dance. The graceful swaying of the dancers, and the gentle tinkling of the cones makes it a truly wonderful dance to experience.