Making music is universal. It transcends culture, race, and even time. Music is a thread that connects all of humanity in one big tapestry. And this is especially true of dance. The Native American dance stick is essentially an extension of oneself — something that helps you fully express yourself and your culture when dancing. It’s an ancient tradition with many variations,  but the core remains the same: it’s about being who you are and expressing it through movement and rhythm. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the history of the Native American dance stick and its significance today as a testament to our shared human spirit through dance. 

The Importance of Music in Native Culture

Music is present in every culture on the planet, and it is particularly important in Native American culture. It is at once a form of artistic expression, a means of communication, and an integral part of religious, cultural, and daily life. First of all, music has a significant role in Native American religious practices, especially among the Plains tribes. Shamans used rattles and percussion instruments to induce visions and dream-like states. Drumming was also used to send messages over long distances. And, of course, music is also an important part of social interactions. It is used to mark significant events, like births and deaths, as well as everyday life, like hunting, cooking, and even games. Not only is music used as a form of communication, it is also a form of self-expression. Dance, in particular, is an essential part of Native American culture.

The Long History of the Native American Dance Stick

For those versed in Native American cultures, the dance stick is a familiar sight. It is the object that is held in the hand during ceremonial dances or pow-wows. It is a symbol of authority and status and is also used in healing ceremonies. The Native American dance stick has a long history, and its original form was very different than its modern-day iteration. The Native American dance stick is also known as a “rattle stick,” because it makes use of a rattle at the top.  The rattle is used to make noise during ceremonies, and it is also used in healing ceremonies to make a sound that is said to be healing, particularly when treating mental illness. 

How is a Native American Dance Stick Made?

The Native American dance stick is an item that is used in a variety of ceremonies, but it is also something that is used quite regularly outside special occasions. The dance stick is usually a  wooden rod decorated with fabric, feathers, and beads. It is held in the hand while dancing, and is used to hit the center pole of the lodge as well as the earth to make a loud noise while dancing. The dance stick is used in a number of ceremonies, including healing ceremonies, and girl’s puberty ceremonies. The dance stick is also used during the sun dance, in which dancers stand on a wooden platform for several days without food or water. 

Some Famous Examples of Native American Dance Sticks

  • The Feather Dance Stick: This is one of the most iconic examples of the Native American dance stick. It is decorated with feathers and synthetic materials as well, and is used as a part of the girl’s puberty ceremony. It is also used to symbolize the transition from childhood to adulthood in young women.
  • The Buffalo Robe Dance Stick: This dance stick is used in the sun dance ceremony and is made from a ceremonial buffalo robe. It is important to use a buffalo robe, as buffalo represent the earth. 
  • The Medicine Staff: This is a sacred staff that is decorated with feathers, beads, and other regalia, and is used primarily during healing ceremonies. It is an important symbol of healing and of balance, and it is sometimes given to people who are seeking healing.

Adorn Your Home With An Authentic Native American Dance Stick

The Native American dance stick is something that is still used today in Native American communities. It is a symbol of Native American culture and identity. For those that would like to own an authentic dance stick, handcrafted by Native Americans, there’s Kachina House. Our dance sticks are crafted by Native American Creek and Navajo Indians with great attention to detail. Visit our online store to browse our selection.