Native American Eastern Blanket Dancers

Life changes, it's the only thing that's constant. The way in which we express ourselves changes also. Whether in written word, art, music whatever your genre, I think we all can agree that our expressions change as we do.

This post is about the change in subject matter in my art.  I hope you enjoy the new direction my life and art has taken. I will post a piece and tell you about the piece. 

The Eastern blanket dance is one of the oldest and most traditional dances done by the women of the east coast, north and southeast. In pre-contact times, it was a ceremonial dance, and has only in the last century been a competition.

For females of different ages, the dance had different meanings and was performed differently. For instance, teens and young women start the dance usually with the blanket wrapped around their backs and their arms stretched out ahead of them; this does symbolize their coming of age and the courtship of a partner. Also, these young women were showing off their blankets to the onlookers; showing that they had learned the skills of a blanket maker, passing through a stage of life. Older women start off with the blanket semi-open, to show they are or have been courted and have passed through certain stages and experiences of life, such as marriage and childirth.

Golden agers should never start the dance with the blanket closed in front of them, and should also not spin the blanket around their heads, as they are revered and respected for their wisdom and knowledge of their accomplishments as elders, matriarchs and tenders of the home and family.

Some powwow regalia consists of either buckskin or cloth (representing different time periods), can be either a dress or a top and skirt, short traditional fringe, moccasins and leggings are optional. Bead work is now the contemporary and, I might add, popular way to adorn the outfit. When judging the category, I would say to look for grace and showmanship, showing off of the blanket, originality and, of course, graceful footwork.
For alot of people new to attending powwows on the east coast, you will see this dance done at a lot of events. It is not, however, by any definition, a "new" dance; perhaps "new" to those who are new to attending powwows on the east coast!! But, the women have always done this dance, and a lot of others that haven't made their way to "mainstream" celebrations yet.

Let me know your thoughts about this.





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