Dance has been a very important part of the Native American culture. Native Americans dance on festivals, during ceremonies and rituals, or as a part of various other social occasions. Dance serves as a form of celebration, a kind of dedication to the gods, a way of invoking the spirits and also as a method of fostering tribal unity. Different Native American tribes practiced different forms of dances. The most popular among these were the Ghost Dance and the Sun Dance.
Sun Dance was often performed as a form of dedication to the Sun deity. This dance was performed by the warriors of a tribe. To perform the dance, a pole was erected and a rope was tied to its top end. At the end of the rope, metal hooks were attached.
A warrior would pierce these hooks through his chest and dance around the pole. The dance went on for many days. It ended when the warrior became completely exhausted or when the metal hooks ripped out of his body. Sun Dance was performed by most of the Native American tribes.
Ghost Dance became a popular kind of Native American dance in the 19th century. At the time, the expansion of United States had disrupted the life and culture of the Native Americans. Ghost Dance was a spiritual dance. The Indians believed that they could recover their culture and gain unity by performing this dance. The dance was performed in a circle by a large number of people. It was believed that the ghost dance invoked the spirits of the dead ancestors who would then help defeat the enemies of a tribe.
Snake dance is a type of dance performed by the Hopi tribe. The Hopi believe the snakes can travel to the underworld. So they perform the snake dance so that the snakes would go to the underworld and plead with gods to send rain for the crops.
The dance is performed by the Hopi priests who use real snakes. It is performed as a proper religious ceremony and attended by a large number of people. The priests and their attendants dance with the snakes. The dance is a part of the sixteen-day ceremony which marks the annual departure of the gods from the village.
Stomp dance is a type of dance performed by a number of Native American tribes. These tribes include the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Ottawa, Miami and Seminole among others. The dance is typically popular among the Native American tribes of the Eastern Woodlands.
It is performed as a part of a social ceremony several times a year. It begins at night and continues until dawn the next day. During the dance, one man serves as the leader while others participants respond to this leader. The singing is done in a call-and-answer format so that the leader says something to which the participants respond in chorus. This particular type of dance is associated with green corn and carries cultural significance.