The History of Tribal Dance

Updated April 17, 2017

Many tribes throughout the world feature tribal dances unique to their specific culture. Some tribal dances recall war victories, whereas others are influenced by the tribal religion. The history of the tribe is sometimes recounted through dance.

American Indian

The spirituality of the American Indian tribes was intertwined with their dances. Many American Indians danced in connection with invocations for blessings on their crops, and for rain. Other Native American dances involved recounting war victories. Retaining cultural traditions, such as the dancing of individual Indian tribes, continues today.


African dance relies heavily on rhythm, and has been used throughout the history of sub-Saharan Africa as a means of creative expression, and to recount tribal history. The Zulu and the Ndebele, in South Africa, recall the history of war victories through tribal dances. African tribal peoples believe that they can communicate with the spirits of the dead, and one way they have historically attempted to do this is through dance. Many of these dances are still practised.


Asian tribal dancing often recalls epic tales from history and religion. In India, stories from the Indian holy books were recounted through dance. Religious holidays, marriages, harvesting and planting have been, and still are, occasions for tribal dance in India.

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About the Author

Scott Wolfenden began writing in 2006 on the subject of mental health. He has written a book on ADHD, children's mental health, education and parenting partially based on experience teaching in public schools. He blogs for Learning Things, an educational products website. He graduated from Thomas Edison State College with a Bachelor of Arts in social science and additional coursework in psychology.