Stomp Dancing

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Despite being forbidden in the past to practice their traditional dances, the Chickasaws kept these treasured pieces of their heritage alive by performing them in secret. Now Chickasaw dancer Julie Underwood says that she plans to pass the practice down to her own children: "They need to know where they came from; they need to know that we still have our songs and dances." Distinct from "social" dances, stomp dancing has a profound ceremonial and religious significance. Men perform the singing, which takes the form of a prayer, while the women play their own crucial part by keeping rhythm with shaker instruments such as box turtle shells and deer toes.