Native American Powwows are celebrations of heritage and traditions, a way for Native American Indians to connect with each other and keep their culture alive through dance, song and storytelling. Many Native Indian pow wow events are open to the public, providing opportunities to educate non-natives about their culture and traditions, including Native American regalia. While powwows occur year-round, most are held between Memorial Day and Labor Day throughout the US and Canada. Powwows are an important part of Native American life and lots of fun for both participants and spectators. For a list of Native Indian Pow Wow events, see our Native Indian Powwow Calendar.
The Women's Fancy Shawl Dance is a beautiful and very strenuous dance typically performed by younger ladies and girls at Native Indian pow wow events. It is a fast dance that requires stamina and gracefulness, along with intricate footwork. Each dancer wears a fancy shawl decorated with colorful designs made of appliqué, ribbons and painting. The shawl has long fringe or ribbons that flow with the movements of the dancer. Fancy Shawl Dancers create the illusion of a butterfly floating through the air by dancing light on their feet and twirling around with their shawl extended like butterfly wings.
Envision the grace and beauty of a butterfly gracefully floating through the sky and you will know how this dance got its name. Nicknamed the butterfly dance, this style represents the beauty and grace of new life. The dance is very upbeat, yet the dancer never seems to touch the ground.
Today's Fancy Shawl dancer wears a dress made of a shiny fabric such as taffeta or satin. The skirt usually reaches to about mid-calf and is flared at the knee to allow for those fancy dance steps. Rather than beadwork, designs are usually appliqued on with contrasting colors or sometimes done in sequined materials. A decorated matching vest is often worn. Leggings are usually made of the same material and design as the dress, but also may be buckskin. Beaded or painted moccasins are worn on the feet. The accessories include a beaded belt or sometimes a silver concho belt, beaded barrette(s), hair ties and a single white or cream colored plume feather held by a barrette at the back of the head. Traditionally this is an eagle plume, but more often today mariboo plumes are used, especially by younger girls. Of course, the final item is the shawl, traditionally with long flowing fringes along the bottom. Rarely, the shawl is beaded or partially beaded, (very heavy to dance in), but most often it is appliqued in designs that have meaing to the owner. The shawl may be made from the same material as the dress, a contrasting or complementing color, or may be wool.
Crazy Crow Trading Post has long been your number one source for Native American regalia & related craft supplies for your Native Indian powwow regalia and other needs. This photo gallery represents Women's Fancy Shawl Dance outfits, both Northern and Southern Plains, mostly taken at Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We thank Derek Matthews of Gathering of Nations, and others who have given permission to present these photos in this gallery.
Crazy Crow Trading Post -Crafts Supplies for Native American Regalia & Accessories!