Songs and Dances

Intertribal Songs

Intertribal songs can be very old or very contemporary. During Intertribal Dances, all dancers, including visitors, may dance. Intertribals allow all nations, styles, ages and genders to dance, and are the most common songs at a traditional intertribal powwow such as this one. The Emcee will announce which songs are Intertribals.

Honor Songs

Usually sung in honor of a particular person, honor songs are also sung for groups or sacred items. When an honor song is sung, it is respectful to stand and remove your hat.

Men's Traditional Dance

This is one of the oldest dances, and has many different patterns and styles, which represent the man's native family and individuality. Often, items of the Traditional Dancer's clothing or items he dances with have great significance or are heirlooms passed down through the generations. Traditional dancers may wear a circular bustle of Eagle feathers, representing the circle of life.

Men's Grass Dance

A traditional dance that was done for many years on the prairies, the Grass Dance was done to make a circle before the Creator and clear the way for the other dancers. Grass Dancers originally wore outfits made from grass. They would begin to dance, making a circle in the tall grass by gracefully pressing the grass down. Their movements resembled the swaying of the prairie grasses. Today, many Grass Dance outfits are made from yarn and ribbons.

Men's Fancy Dance

The flashiest and most athletic of men's dances, the Men's Fancy Dance is a modern interpretation of the old traditional Grass Dance. This dance style is characterized by bright, colorful beadwork and brilliant hued double feather bustles. Dancers use intricate, rapid footwork and wear knee bells for keeping time.

Women's Traditional Dance

This dance is in honor of the woman's role as giver of life and keeper of the home, family, and culture. Women's traditional dance styles reflect women's close connection to Mother Earth by never allowing their feet to completely leave the ground. Northern traditional dancers usually dance in one place; Southern traditional dancers usually dance clockwise around the dance arena.

Women's Jingle Dress Dance

Originating from the Ojibway people of the Great Lakes area, this dance spread rapidly through the Northern Plains. The jingles on the dresses are made from tobacco can lids, and make a pleasing sound as the dancer moves. Tobacco is sacred, and the jingle dance asks for good health for the people. It is said that there is good medicine when a jingle dancer is present.

Women's Fancy Shawl Dance

This modern style dance features elaborate footwork and athletic movement similar to that of the Men's Fancy Dance, but with more movement, especially spinning. The women wear decorated fringed shawls and brightly colored matching beadwork.

Round Dance

The Round Dance is a social dance in which all dancers and visitors can participate. Dancers move clockwise in a circle around the drum, in a step-up fashion, with faster moving lines in the center, and slower moving lines on the outside.


The Two Step is a social dance with male and female dancers dancing as partners. Visitors may be invited to join also. This is the only dance in which men and women dance together as partners.


The Crow-Hop is danced by both men and women and is said to have originated in the Crow Nation. This dance has a very distinctive musical beat and is unlike any of the other songs.

Snake Dance

One of the oldest dances, the Snake Dance imitates the journey of a snake. Led by the Head Man Dancer, the dancers follow each other in a single line, winding in and out in a snake-like manner.

Blanket Dance

Named for purpose rather than a specific dance style, a Blanket Dance is an opportunity for those present to make a donation as a blanket or shawl is carried around the perimeter of the dance arena. The purpose is announced prior to the singing of the song for this dance, and visitors may contribute voluntarily and in whatever amount they deem appropriate.