Native American Dance Shawls
Native American Dance Shawls are a regalia item you will always see at Powwows. Whether simple or fancy, most women wear them or carry them on their arms. Many Powwow circles do not allow women into the circle if they are not wearing or carrying a shawl.
Dance Shawls are not a pre-contact clothing item. They were likely adapted from women’s blankets. They are made of fabric with fringe or ribbons decorating the edges. Fancy Shawls feature beadwork or fabric or ribbon applique along with colorful fringe.
Fancy Shawl Dance
Early in the 20th century, when Powwows were being organized as non-ritual gatherings of Native Americans, the Shawl Dance was created for women. Unlike the historically quiet, demure dances for women, the Shawl Dance gave women a chance to wear more colorful, elaborate clothing. Over the following decades, Fancy Shawls became more elaborate and the Dance became more energetic and athletic. Today Fancy Shawl Dancers resemble butterflies with their bright outstretched ‘wings’ as they twirl and leap around the dance circle. Because the Fancy Shawl Dance originated during the modern Pan-Indian time, it has always been considered an Inter-Tribal Dance, not associated with any individual Native American tradition.
Varieties of Shawls
Women’s Dance Shawls can be made with a variety of fabrics. The weight of the shawl is one aspect to consider when choosing a fabric. Lighter polyester gabardine blends are good for an easy wearing, colorfast shawl.
At The Wandering Bull – Native American Craft Store you will find a variety of Ready to Wear Shawls in solid colors and prints. We use chainette fringe strands which do not unravel on all of our shawls.
Make Your Own Dance Shawl!
If you have the time, The Wandering Bull – Native American Craft Store has everything you need to make your own shawl! We keep several Hemmed Dance Shawl Fabric Blanks in stock along with 21 Colors of Shawl Fringe Spools for you! You may buy these items separately, or buy our complete Dance Shawl Kit which comes with 1 shawl blank, 1 spool of fringe, 1 tapestry needle, and illustrated instructions.