Worshipping the sun has been an old custom, nearly as long as mankind itself. The tribes of the Great Plains in North America saw the sun as a sign of the Great Spirit. The Sun Dance has been performed for centuries as a way to honor the sun as well as to bring the dancers visions. It is traditionally performed by young warriors. The preparation of the plains people for the Sun Dance, according to the historians involved a lot of prayer. It is followed by the ceremonial felling of a tree, which is painted and erected at the dancing ground. The tribe’s shaman supervises all of this. The Great Spirit is shown respect by giving them offerings. The Sun Dance lasts for several days and during this time the dancers abstained from food. Before the beginning of the dance, participants often spent some time in a sweat lodge, and
The ceremony for the earth’s regeneration and the restoration of the caretakers of the earth to their former life of bliss is called the ghost dance. The religion experienced its height of popularity during the late 19th century. This was the height of the devastation of the land, the buffalo and the Native American guardians. Wovoka, a proclaimed visionary and Messiah by many desperate nations, was said to have received emissaries from different tribes between 1888 and 1890. Wovoka said that Spirits had shown him certain songs and movements after he had died for a short period of time. Wovoka preached non-violence, and most tribes abandoned their war-like ways in preparation for future happiness. The dance quickly spread to various American Indian nations, and as it spread, it took on additional meanings. While performing the ceremonial dance, it was believed that you could visit relatives who had left their bodies.
Native American tribes have performed a rain dance, a ceremonial dance that have performed for centuries. Rain dances are performed by both male and female members of the tribe when droughts occur or during the late summer months when rain is needed for crops. To this day, many tribes around the United States have kept this tradition alive and continue to perform rain dances. Tribes in the arid Southwest held traditional dances to get rain by winning the favor of their gods. The most famous was the Snake Dance of the Hopi Indians in Arizona, performed every two years, late in August, by the Snake fraternity. They built a small shelter of cottonwood boughs called kisi, where they put rattlesnakes. A man is crouched inside the kisi and hands out snakes. Naked and painted except for kilts, the rest of the tribesmen chanted, swayed, and sounded shell rattles. Each tribesman