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Native American Dance - Historical Depictions

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Historical Depictions of Native American Dance

This page features documentation and depictions of Native American dance by non-indigenous Americans, which may reflect misconceptions or prejudices of their time.


Sioux Ghost Dance and the Buffalo Dance, filmed in 1894 by Thomas A. Edison. This is the earliest film footage of Native American dance. Though enacted here for the camera, these group dances serve ceremonial purposes within Native American communities, intimately connected to spiritual beliefs, the environment, and group identity.


Essay by Jacqueline Shea Murphy -- Selected Resources

See more images of Native American Dance:

Contemporary Native American Dance


George Catlin, War Dance of the Apachees"



Pictured left: George Catlin, "War Dance of the Apachees," 1855/1869. Catlin frequently depicted Native-American social and ceremonial dance traditions. Paul Mellon Collection, Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington.