Men’s Traditional Dance


Last Updated: 5 years

The men’s traditional dance is just that: a traditional dance held over from times when war parties would return to the village and dance out the story of the battle, or hunters would return and dance their story of tracking an enemy or prey.

Men's Traditional Dancers

The outfit of the traditional dance is more subdued in color than the other dancers.

Their outfits are frequently decorated with bead and quill work. Traditional dancers wear a circular bustle of eagle feathers, representing cycles and the unity of everything. The eagle feather spikes on the bustle point upward, representing a channel between the Great Spirit and all things on earth.

The traditional dancers are usually veterans

The traditional dancers are usually veterans and carry, as they dance, many traditional items that symbolize their status as warriors. Traditional dancers carry shields, weapons, honor staffs (used to challenge the enemy and decorated with eagle feathers representing achievements in battle) and medicine wheels (carried as a reminder of the wisdom of the four directions, unity, and for the cycle of all things in the universe).

The traditional dancer’s movements are patterned after animals and birds

The traditional step is done with the ball of the foot touching the ground on the 1 beat, the whole foot on the 2 beat. The traditional dancer’s movements are patterned after animals and birds, like the grouse, and may be an imitation of the tracking of the animals themselves.

The men’s traditional dance competition is generally divided into five age groups: 50 plus, men, teen, junior boys and little boys (nine and under). Dancers are judged on how well they keep time to the music, follow the beat of the drum and stop when the music does, with both feet on the ground.