Learn how to fancy shawl dance

Native American Indian Dance Shawls

Skip to content Native American Dance Shawls
Rate This Article

By Crazy Crow Trading Post ~ July 8, 2014

Credit Above Photo: Tony Alter from Newport News, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Crazy Crow Trading Post ~ July 8, 2014

Credit Above Photo: Tony Alter from Newport News, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ladies Fancy Shawl Dancing (the newest form of women’s dance) is often called Northern Shawl, as it does come form the Northern tribes along the US-Canadian border. This dance style is similar in dancing and the bright colors to the Men’s Fancy Dance. The ladies wear their shawls over their shoulders, and dance by jumping and spinning with the music. Though the fancy shawl involves more motion and agility than other styles of dance, the grace of the woman is always expressed.

As the name of the dance-style would imply, particular emphasis is paid to the shawls, with elaborate designs, appliqué, ribbon work, and painting. Long fringe hangs from the edges of the shawl, and flies round the dancer as she moves to the music.

Credit Above Photo: Smithsonian Institution from United States, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons. Fancy Shawl Dance Photo Gallery ~ Introducing Crazy Crow’s pow wwow dance styles photo & media gallery. Images & video organized by dance style to make it easier for you to find great ideas for your powwow dance clothes. View Gallery

Women’s Traditional is the oldest type of women’s dance. It is sometimes referred to as Straight or Buckskin Dancing, and like Men’s Traditional there are many tribal variations, including wearing a buckskin, cloth or wool dress.

Regardless of the tribal variations, there are two important items used by Traditional Dancers. One, is the fan. This fan is usually beaded and is raised to the drum, in honor, during the “honor” beats of the songs. The second item, is the shawl. This colorful, fringed shawl is carried over one arm. The fringe of the shawl sways with the movement of the dancer.

Other Uses: Shawls are a very popular give-away item. Also, whenever a woman enters the dance arena without her dance outfit or regalia, she will most likely stop long enough to wrap a shawl around her shoulders.

Making Native American Dance Shawls

Regardless of the type shawl you wish to make, we have tried to assemble all the available online links and resources to help with the task. As additional information is found or created, we will add it in order to keep this reference current (if you haven’t noticed, several more links have been added to the Moccasin page since it was created). In addition to the Web resources, we also highlight related products offered by Crazy Crow to make your dance shawl craft project easier and the results more assured.

I must admit that it was much more difficult than I thought it would be to find information regarding making shawls on the web. It almost made me turn in my web connection -and I definitely have less hair (that’s happening anyway). If anyone knows of articles ON THE WEB that provide the ‘how-to’ diagrams online, please forward it to Craft Focus. Besides commercial sources which are listed, the best information I could get was in discussion forums at Powwows.com. This looks like a great place to ask questions and get help from craftworkers from all parts of the country. Try it out!

Native American Dance :: Womens Fancy Shawl Dance Regalia

O N L I N E    R E F E R E N C E

Craft-Ribbonwork-Part One – Canku Ota
Many shawls are decorated with ribbonwork applique. Part one of this 2-part article will help you use this beautiful means of adornment: What is Ribbonwork, Terms used in Ribbonwork, What kind of ribbons are used today, Making Ribbons using material, What fabric to use and The important aspects of ribbonwork.

Craft-Ribbonwork-Part Two – Canku Ota
In Part Two, the different styles of ribbonwork are discussed, providing examples of how to prepare your ribbons for the technique. Shows some templates you can use. Features three appliqué ribbonwork techniques: Plains ribbonwork, Osage ribbonwork and Woodlands ribbonwork. The Plains and Osage Style Ribbonwork are mostly the same style only the how the ribbon is put on the material is different.

The Evolving Beauty of the Fancy Shawl Dance – Indian Country Today
Given its legacy of color, vivacity and even rebellion, the name of the dance is ironically plain: fancy shawl. Women’s fancy shawl—often mistakenly thought to be a dance that traces back far in history but is actually a fairly recent innovation—is one of the most anticipated competitions at pow wows. In this unique performance, young women from many nations skim, twirl and hop across the arena with a gait that manages to be staccato, lithe and fluid all at once. Read entire story

Featured Lakota Dance: Women’s Fancy Shawl
St. Joseph Indian School: The first impression people often have of the women fancy dancers is that of butterflies. Dancers wear American Indian decorated shawls that compliment a satin dress and knee-high beaded moccasins or decorated leggings. The decorated shawl is made of cloth and fringe, reminiscent of the decorated buffalo robes worn in the past. Read entire story

Yakama Girl’s Fancy Shawl Dance

One of young Yakama girls’ favorite dances is the Fancy Shawl Dance, which is performed in the powwow circle. This dance is similar to a Yakama social dance called the Butterfly Dance, in which the girls imitate butterflies leaving the cocoon. Both the Fancy Shawl and Butterfly songs are fast and lively. The girls dance wearing their tł’píip and a few extra beaded items, with shawls draped over their shoulders and arms. You can hear the bells or shells on some of the dresses keeping rhythm as they dance. The girls, gracefully interpreting butterflies fluttering in a meadow of flowers, dance in both the Yakama social-dance circle and the powwow circle. With dance, they demonstrate beautiful teachings from the Yakama lifestyle. Read entire story