jingle dress


Native American tribes have always had a tradition of dance as part of their culture. One interesting story comes from the Chippewa and Anishnabe tribes in the areas of northern Minnesota and Ontario, Canada. The jingle dance is one of the traditional dances still practiced today. Jingle dresses are so called because of the hundreds of “bells” lovingly and laboriously attached to the dress, and which make the distinctive jingling sound as the dancer performs.

There are differences between the original dance and contemporary interpretations, but the meanings and symbolism remain the same.

Variously known as a prayer, singing, medicine or healing dress, the jingle dress is a formidable work of art. Jingle dresses are intended for both physical and spiritual healing purposes. The jingle dress and dance is also to pray for and commemorate loved ones who have already passed from this world.

Tradition holds that the inspiration for such a dress must come from a dream, wherein the dreamer is instructed to make the dress so that someone who is ill may be cured. Only through a dream is the wearer entitled to make, or have made, such a dress and perform the traditional healing or prayer dance. Jingle dresses, by virtue of these conditions, hold spiritual and medicinal powers.

The legends and traditions of jingle dresses have been passed down from generation to generation. There are many stories, uncannily similar in nature, whereby the dreamer has a vision resulting in one or more dresses to be made and the jingle dance performed with the subsequent healing of the afflicted person.

The traditional materials used for jingle dresses include cotton prints and broadcloth, in times past very valuable trade items. The fabric used takes second place in importance to the actual jingles. The jingles consist of the lids from snuff cans, which are collected or received as gifts, and number in the hundreds for each dress. The lids of the snuff cans are rolled tightly into a cone shape and suspended with a ribbon. The finished cone is then sewn to the dress by the ribbon, carefully arranged in a artful scalloped or geometric shape. The jingles must be sewn closely together, so that they strike each other during the movements of the dance. Jewelry, leggings and ankle moccasins are worn to complete the outfit.

The original jingle dance is accompanied by drums, but did not include fans, feathers or plumes as are sometimes used today. The jingle dance is a stunning performance and the jingles are the starring element. The sound produced by the hundreds of jingles chiming can be described as the sound of rain hitting tin, a sweet musical sound like no other.

If you have the opportunity to see the magical performance of the jingle dance, it's highly recommended.


A few months after college I picked the pieces and decided I had to move on with my life. Sure things were good were I lived, but couldn't imagine spending my life there, I was going to be someone, I had to be! Our plan had always been to move to Arizona and now I had not other plan, so I stuck to the plan. I was taking a weekend vacation with some friends to go to Chicago, so I altered my itinerary to leave there and go to Phoenix! I quickly lined up some job interviews and I was off! I'd been to Arizona once before and enjoyed it, there was no other option.
It all happened so quickly. After a cross country drive I arrived in Phoenix March 13 and was to start my new job a week later.
Like I've said before, I never felt the need to have to walk around in my buckskin and leather, I loved Arizona, because "they" or "we" were all over. Looking back now I also enjoy the whiteness of Arizona. It's not creepy, soccer mom-ish, where you have to dress up and put your make-up on before leaving the house. It's more laid back and you're not looked upon like the help like I am mostly. I dread going into my favorite grocery store because the clerks always talk to me in mexican. How presumptuous of them to assume I'm like them!

Jupiter Thunder!

I look out over my kingdom from high atop my perch. I survey my world and how quiet it is. My neighbor Ted sits with me. Our days are usually spent just hanging out and enjoying the view, we rarely speak. I'm new to the neighborhood, I'd love to meet others, there are mixers occasionally that Wanda hosts, she makes the best tea ever. My name is Jupiter Thunder, isn't it pretty, it evokes such grandness and power!

I remember when I was little, I would look at her all the time. She was on the top shelf in the bookshelf in the living at my grandmother's. Sometimes if I was good, my mother would let me take her down and out of her plastic world. (what was being good)
"Now be careful with her and make sure she doesn't leave the house" my mother warned (what world is she leaving, are you taking her or stealing her)
I would nod my head as I reached for her - first I would make sure her hair was perfect, which it always was, I would then brush off imaginary dust while my mother was still in the room, then I would brush her suede dress so all the tiny fibers of tanned cow hide dress faced in one direction, then brush again in the opposite direction to see which shade of tan we would like to wear today. her name was Jupiter Thunder (what was her name? Where does it come from?). I always thought her so mysterious (not the word) and worldly.
If I had been exceptionally good that day, I would be allowed to take out her rabbit fur coat out of its protective home (why is it in the fridge) in the back of the fridge. I never understood why my mother never displayed her with the coat, what use was that lump of fur in the fridge next to the pickles? No one could enjoy it's beauty and craftsmanship.
Jupiter and I would sit in my playroom. She sat legs splayed in the only direction they would move in a V-shape. Her tiny white cotton frilly underwear peeking out. It's only now I wonder how historically accurate that was or if it was a remnant of my mother's childhood.
Today we were playing classroom and I was the teacher and Jupiter the troubled student. Our lesson plan for the day was Math then recess, then story time.
My chalkboard in front of the makeshift classroom, Jupiter at her desk. What I can only now comment on is its smallness. My grandfather brought it home from me when they were remodelling the elementary school. I remember how I used to be able to fit into the seat and tuck my tiny self under the desk. Now I look at it in amazement that I was ever that small.
When Jupiter sat in the desk, I made sure she had a pillow or two underneath her so she could take note of the day's lesson. When we would go outside, I held on tightly, to her hand.
(Why mom had an indian doll, how big was Jupiter, would she wear the goad, did she get cold)

Forget that

No! I cannot be happy! I refuse to be. Waking up at 5am with thoughts swimming through your head then reading that another role has been filled by some white looking actress. Maybe I'm just pissed off, and jealous, but regardless I'm sure nepotism is at work as well as the fact that you have twins that are constantly out meeting the world. WTF why am I so angry, I should be happy, but I'm not. This sucks.

Used car saleman?

Today I had oddest experience and I'm still processing it. Ok, fine I make jewelry and other crafty things, I sell at craft fairs, roller derby and on Etsy, I even had my stuff in a store last year. But today I had a meeting with a woman who just opened the cutest store in my neighborhood. Not thinking that I was an actual vendor or salesman, I walked in with my case full of jewelry and bag of tshirts and onesies. I took each item out and gave an explanation of what I was thinking when I made the item. The whole time I was doing this, I felt so uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with what I'm not sure, the idea that I was putting my whole creativeness out there for the world to see? Afraid that they, general public whom I don't know, would be judging?


How do I hate thee, let me count the ways, she thinks to herself. Hate, just such a strong word to use for another, but sometimes it's ok, especially when the person is yourself. Have you just sat and stared at yourself in the mirror, when Wanda does it, she is analyzing and dissecting the imperfections, staring into the same eyes every day for a 1/3 of a century, always seeing the same person, but not. Trying to figure out where she went and when she left. The fun girl, the fearless girl occasionally stopped by to say hi, but she always left in a rush running to help someone else, never taking a moment for her. She never really stopped to worry about love. It's always out there, and she had enough for the world, but now as age begins to creep up on her, she worries about love all the time. Will she find love, will it love her back, do they love her? will they love her if she does A, B, and C? How does one carry on the in the world?