Jarrod wearing his Grass Dance regalia for St. Joseph's Indian School's powwow. Today, Grass Dance regalia has fringes made of yarn or ribbon instead of grass.

“I love making people happy with the Grass Dance; I love it when they watch me at powwow.” - Caden, a member of St. Joseph’s Dance Club

Caden has been a grass dancer since second grade. As a sixth-grade student, he will participate in his fifth powwow at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

“I wanted to be a grass dancer because I love the story of where the dance came from,” he said.

The Grass Dance or Omaha Dance was originally a ceremonial dance celebrating the people’s relationship with Mother Earth. Legend says, before beginning a powwow (wacipi), young boys were sent out to tramp down and smooth tall grass in the area of the celebration.

They tied the grass onto themselves and imitated the swaying movement of the grass as the breeze blew across the prairie.

Lakota Grass Dance at St. Joseph's Indian school. Grass Dancers mimic the movement of long prairie grasses
swaying in the wind.

Over the years, songs were borrowed by neighboring tribes who continue to celebrate Mother Earth with their dance. Today, the Grass Dance is very popular among younger dancers who wear colorful fringe, yarn or ribbon instead of grass.

Dancers try to emulate the movement of the grass blowing in the breeze as they sway from side to side. Skillful grass dancers are able to keep in time with the drum beat, flow with the breeze and show balance in their dance routine.


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