Stomp dancing is an important aspect of Southeastern tribal culture. Traditionally, the song is sung by men in a call-and-answer format, with the dance rhythm set by the leader’s handheld turtle shell rattle.
Women traditionally participate in the dance with shakers made from deer toes and box turtle shells, tied around their calves. Using turtle shells shows respect and gratitude to animals for providing many good things. Many tribes believe that the fire at the center of the dance circle embodies the Creator on earth.
The cross represents the four seasons, four directions, and the logs of the Sacred Fire. Stomp dancers move counterclockwise around the fire, with their hearts closest to the fire, while the smoke lifts their prayers to the Creator (Aba’ Bínni’li’ in Chickasaw).
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