History of the Native American Eagle Dance

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History of the Native American Eagle Dance
(eagle,bald eagle,beak,natural,attitude,tampa,flori image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com)

The Native American Eagle dance performed by Indian tribes consists of movements that emulate an eagle. The dancers are clothed with replications of eagle attire. The performance includes sequences of songs and dances. In Native American tribes, the eagle has a symbolic meaning. These Native American tribes believe that the eagle has a spiritual connection to their prayers.

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Origin

The Native American tribes that perform the Eagle dance believe that the eagle has the theoretical ability to move about between heaven and earth. In times gone by, the Native Americans have believed that the eagle has supernatural powers. Also, these Native American tribes believe that the eagle has the power to control rain and thunder. Therefore, the Eagle dance originated as a result of this figurative meaning.

Purpose

The Native American tribes performed the Eagle dance when there was a need for divine intervention. Historically, the Native Americans performed the dance for a variety of reasons, including friendship creation and curing a sickness. They traditionally believed that the eagle has the supernatural power to transport prayers to the gods.

Symbolic Belief of the Eagle

The Native Americans believe that the eagle symbolises wisdom, strength and power. Some tribes believe that the eagle's flight signifies the passage of the sun's movements. Eagle's feathers are sacred, especially the Golden Eagle and Bald Eagle. Therefore, it is a privilege to wear the eagle's feathers. Also, these Native American tribes believe that the eagle's feathers should never touch the ground. Moreover, the eagle's feathers are used as object decorations in the eagle dance ceremonies.

Aspects of the Dance

The performance of the Eagle dance is a depiction of the eagle's life cycle from birth to death. In olden times, Native American tribes may have performed the dance to bring rain for crops. Two central dancers perform an imitation of the eagle's movements. Also, a group of male dancers provide background singing and drum music. However, there is no specific method to perform the dance. It varies with each tribe. In general, the dance consists of the eagle's day to day movements. For instance, the dancers may perform a replica of the animal's hunting and feeding progressions. The dancers make flapping movements to imitate the eagle's flight.

Ceremony Performance

Different Indian tribes perform the Eagle dance during a sacred ceremony. Traditionally, the Iroquois, Comanche and Calumet tribes have performed the dance during spiritual ceremonies. In the present day, it's usually performed by the Jemez and Tesuque tribes located in New Mexico. The dance can be performed during any season, but it is normally performed in the early part of the Spring season.

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