What is the Grass Dance?

The Grass Dance is one of the oldest Indigenous dances that are still performed and appears as part of many plains First Nations celebrations. It was traditionally understood to be a warrior’s dance and often the first one performed for ceremony, with dancers blessing the ground and flattening the grass as they danced. The steps of this dance typically include long, fluid swaying, imitating the movement of tall prairie grasses.

Unlike other Indigenous dances, Grass Dance regalia does not typically contain feathers (except maybe as part of a headpiece) and instead includes long colourful fringe, ribbons, or yarn. In the past these dancers would wear braided grass tucked into their belts, honouring the importance of dried grass in the warrior’s life, for use as tinder or, if necessary, as improvised stockings for warmth.

Today, both men and women dance the Grass Dance, but they need to be in great shape to perform its controlled and intricate movements.