June 15, 2019
Celebrating the Jingle Dress Dance
Dancers move in unison and a sound fills the air, like raindrops falling on a tin roof. Today’s Doodle by Ojibwe guest artist Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley celebrates the Jingle Dress Dance, which originated during the 1920s amongst the Ojibwe tribe somewhere between Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario. The dance lives on today, notably in events such as the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Grand Celebration Pow Wow this weekend in Hinckley, Minnesota.
According to stories passed throughout generations, the origin of the jingle dress dates back to when an Ojibwe girl fell sick, and the idea for the dress and dance came to her worried father through a vision. Hundreds of metal cones, known as ziibaaska’iganan, were fashioned and sewed onto her dress so that the dance movements would create a jingling sound.
The girl’s father taught his daughter the sacred dance, instructing her to always keep one foot on the ground—and eventually, her illness was cured. After the girl recovered, she taught her friends to make the dresses. Together, they created the first Jingle Dress Dance Society.
Over time, the choreography and dress style of the jingle dress has evolved, with increasingly intricate footwork learned through years of practice for the competitive pow wow circuit, as well as garments now ranging from aprons to full-length designs. Many dancers make their own dresses, as taught by parents or tribal elders. Some wear eagle feathers in their hair, or carry a feather fan.
Despite some changes over the years, what remains constant is the dance’s jingling sound. Today, the dance also serves to affirm the power of Native American women.
Guest Artist Q&A with Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Today's Doodle was created by guest artist Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, who divides his time between Wasauksing First Nation (in Ontario) and Vancouver. Below he shares his thoughts behind making the Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: Some of my cousins and friends are jingle dress dancers. I drum at pow wow with my uncle and cousins.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: I was excited to hear from Google. When I heard the Doodle was about the Jingle Dress Dance, I was eager to get started. Watching the dancers at pow wow is one of my favorite things to do.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: Pow wow, family, Norval Morrisseau, and nature.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: That Anishinaabe culture is beautiful. That indigenous women are strong and resilient, and the voice of our future.
Early sketches and behind-the-scenes photos