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Rain Dance

————————————————- Top of Form Indian Rain Dance A rain dance is a dancing ceremony performed by some Native American Indian tribes, asking their spirits or gods to send rain. It is more common among Southwest Native Americans, who live in drier regions. Time Frame * The rain dance normally takes place during the spring planting season and the summer months before crops are harvested. The dance asks the gods or spirits to send the appropriate amount of rain at the correct time to assure a plentiful crop.

Geography * Some Native American Indians of the Southwest include the rain dance as part of their religious ritual. Rain dances can be found in other cultures in different parts of the world, such as in ancient Egypt, 20th century Romania and in Slavic countries. History * Stories of the origins of ceremonial dances have been passed from generation to generation orally. When the Native Americans were relocated in the 19th century, the United States government banned certain tribal ceremonial dances.

In some regions tribal members would tell federal representatives that they were performing a “rain dance” rather than disclosing the fact they were actually performing one of the banned ceremonies. Features * One thing that makes rain dances unique from some other ceremonial dances is that both men and women participate in the ceremony. Rain dances vary from tribe to tribe, each with their unique rituals and ceremony. Large headdresses are often worn, along with specific ritual dress and accessories. Dance steps usually involve moving in a zigzag pattern as opposed to other ceremonial dances that involve standing in a circle.

Identification * Native Americans have many different types of ceremonial dances, which may vary from tribe to tribe, depending on their particular religious and spiritual beliefs and needs. The rain dance is perhaps one the most stereotypical Native American ceremonial dance depicted by Hollywood. Many Native American people continue to honor their ceremonial dances. Some Native Americans on reservations perform this ritual daily. Each year on August 19th, the Pueblo Zuni people in New Mexico hold their rain dance ceremony. Both the men and women take part in the ceremony, each wearing masks.

The men perform the ceremony with a nude torso, adorned with paint and a necklace of beads. A fox skin is attached to the back of the waistline of the embroidered apron they wear. Leather or silver bracelets are worn. Their legs are bare and they wear moccasins. Women performing the dance are fully covered, with only bare feet. Shawls cover their dress and hands. * Form two lines parallel to each other and about four feet apart. Men stand in one line; women in the other. * Step forward with your left foot. * Raise your right foot while moving forward and bring that foot to the floor. The men can stomp more vigorously than the women. Continue to step forward in this way–left foot, right foot higher, stomp to floor. Unlike other Native American dances performed in a circle, rain dancers move in a square pattern around the sides of the room or area in which they’re dancing. * During one measure of the song, and while moving forward, face to the right. During the next measure, face to the left. A zigzagging pattern is formed as you continue on in this manner * Between measures, dancers can stop and twirl in imitation of the wind, which is showing the promise of rain. The women may chant or sing the song that’s playing, and the men can yelp with the beat.

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