Chickasaw women enhance the rhythm of the stomp dance with shakers worn on their legs. Above, a woman dances with turtle shell shakers. Public stomp dances are planned through September at Kullihoma.
Published July 29, 2019
ADA, Okla. — The Chickasaw Nation will host monthly public stomp dances through September at Kullihoma, seven miles northeast of Ada on state Highway 1.
Upcoming stomp dances at Kullihoma are planned for 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Aug. 24 and Sept. 27. Dances will include traditional songs and dances, food and fellowship.
Stomp dancing has deep roots in the Chickasaw culture, as it does with most Southeastern tribes.
At Chickasaw stomp dances, men sing ceremonial stomp dance songs in a call-and-answer format, following a male song leader.
Chickasaws believe that the fire at the center of the dance circle is the embodiment of Aba’ Binni’li’ (the Creator) on earth and that the smoke carries prayers to Aba’ Binni’li’. Stomp dancers move counterclockwise around the fire, so their hearts are closest to the fire.
Chickasaws also host social dances, where men often set the dance rhythm using a handheld shaker made of materials like the horn of a bull or turtle shell. Women enhance the rhythms with shakers worn on their legs. These shakers are often made of turtle shells, deer toes or milk cans.
Social dances often have animal-themed names, like the gar fish dance and the snake dance. Each social dance has a fun and unique technique.
The gar fish dance has dancers line up, alternating male-female, into a circle formation. Dancers move in one big, continuous rotation. When the song leader signals, partners rotate each other. These spins inside of a larger rotation are like the waves a gar fish would make in the water.
Attendees are welcome to join in or observe both stomp dances and social dances.
Contact the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Resources Department at (580) 622-7140 for more information about the Kullihoma stomp dances. More information about Chickasaw stomp dances and social dances can be found at Chickasaw.net/StompDances.