Native Dance

By: Yecenia Hernandez, Leea Lopez, & Jasmine Yanez


Dances have always been significant in the lives of Native Americans as both a common amusement and a solemn duty. Many dances play a vital role in religious rituals and other ceremonies; while others were held to guarantee the success of hunts, harvests, giving thanks, and other celebrations. Depending upon the dance, sometimes visitors are welcomed; while, at other times, the ceremonies are private.

History of the Native Americans

Native American history stretches back many centuries and continues until the present day. There are many tribes and climates where indigenous populations left their mark in the form of artifacts, traditions and records made by white explorers. Each tribe has its own distinct history and culture, and to learn more about Native American history, it is worthwhile to concentrate on individual tribes.

History of the Ghost Dance

The ghost dance movement was originated from a man named Wovoka. At this time diseases had taken over the Indian population and their numbers had dropped drastically many of them also were forcefully relocated and been stripped of their land ,their culture,and their freedom. During this time of misery, Wovoka began to practice and teach the Indian tribes this spirit dance to give them hope and help them overcome their pain and suffering.


Typically, the ghost dance consists of a group of people usually following a leader. The people involved in the dance wore ghost shirts or sometimes dresses. Their ghost shirts/dresses were made of animals adorned with fringe and feathers. The paintings decorating a Ghost Dance dress/shirt varied from the very simple to the complex with elaborate designs that represented their mythology, such as the sun, moon and stars.

Latin dance vs. Ghost dance

Latin dance originated from South and Central America. It incorporates a lot of moving the body which includes romantic steps with a focus on hip movements. Generally, the wardrobe consists of sensual pieces mostly bodycons with ruffles, fringes, or glitter.The Ghost dance on the other hand, is a spiritual dance that creates Christian doctrine. The focus is more on the feet movements/ stomping. The Ghost dance consists of group dancing, in order to speak to spirits/ghosts. Both come from cultural religion. Both are self expression and rhythm dances. Both their roots are deep and geographically far reaching.

Ghost Dance

During a ghost dance, the people involved sit in a circle, surrounded by ritual dance shirts and dresses, and pass a sacred pipe. They attempt to get in touch with spirits, those ghosts of the past, to reconnect, and to show them that they still carry love for the earth.


The ghost dance is still practiced today but privately. Native American cultures still perform it for the same reasons, because many are losing relatives to cancer and other diseases. They believe this dance will endure the healing of the earth.