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The Origin: Women's Jingle Dance

The Origin: Women's Jingle Dance

Posted in: Exhibits

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Knowledge Keeper Shelda Thom of Whitefish Bay, Ontario shares the story of the Women’s Jingle Dress. This healing dance came as a result of a Grandfathers dream.

The jingle dress and dance is an Ojibwe healing dance that originated with the Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) First Nation in Northern Ontario.  A young girl, Maggie White, became ill and her grandfather had a dream in which he prayed for a way to heal her.  In the dream four ladies came to him wearing dresses with cones on them that sounded like rain when they moved.  He was told that if he created these dresses and the ladies would dance, his granddaughter would be healed.  He made the dresses and the women from his family danced for the girl and over time she began to heal.

There are 365 metal cones representing 365 days of the year on a jingle dress.  The dancers do a side-step movement and are supposed to stay in a line.  Jingle Dress dancers don’t pass each other as they dance, as they don’t want to break the healing circle.

Did you know?  Shelda Thom, the knowledge keeper for the Jingle Dress video, is a descendent of Maggie White.

The origin stories for the videos featured in the Powwow! Ohcîwin the Origins exhibition were filmed during the 2019 and 2020 powwow season. The storytellers in the videos are Knowledge Keepers, who were approached by Patrick and Marrisa Mitsuing, of Powwow Times, to share one of the origin stories of their dance specialty.

This video was created by Powwow Times in collaboration with the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery for the exhibit Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins. Click here to view it on YouTube.

Artisans who collaborated on the Women's Jingle Regalia on display in Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins (pictured left) include Curtis Miller Joe (accessories), Emery-rose Assiniboine (cloth work), Eric Mentuck (featherwork), and Marrisa Mitsuing (beadwork).

Thank you to our major supporters in the development of this exhibition and its video content: Alberta Museums Association, City of Red Deer, Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

alberta museums association    City of Red Deer    AFA


Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins

Ohcîwin is a Cree word meaning “The Origin” or telling of a story where something originated.

Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins features 7 powwow dance styles, with full Regalia and craft work.  Curators and creators, Patrick Mitsuing and Marrisa Mitsuing, have gathered the stories, worked with the Artisans, and carefully built the Regalia for this exhibition.

This exhibition is on display at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) until February 27, 2021. Book your visit today!

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