“Zibaaska’ iganagooday” celebrates a century of the Jingle Dress

Sleevless jingle dress

Sleeveless jingle dress assembled by Mary Bigwind, White Earth Reservation, 1930s

Onamia, MN—A century ago, in 1918 and 1919 when the global influenza pandemic killed millions worldwide, including thousands of Native Americans, Ojibwe communities created a revolutionary new healing practice: the jingle dress dance. Oral histories vary on where exactly the jingle dress first appeared, but some origin stories point to the Mille Lacs Ojibwe community of Minnesota.

Opening Wednesday, April 3, the new exhibition Zibaaska’ iganagoodday: The Jingle Dress at 100 at Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post explores the story of the zibaaska’ iganagooday, or jingle dress, its connections to healing, and how it has spread across Native communities in the last century. Today jingle dress is a popular dance form on the competitive powwow circuit and is performed by Native women with a variety of tribal affiliations.


Jingle dress regalia created by Jessica Rock (Leech Lake Ojibwe), 2008

Visitors will be able to examine jingle dresses —many from the Minnesota Historical Society collections — from a variety of eras and communities and see how Native women have handcrafted garments or transformed store-bought dresses by adding decorative cone-shaped jingles, originally created from snuff tobacco cans.

“The jingle dress dance is an Ojibwe tradition, one that empowered women a century ago, during a global health crisis. This exhibit looks at the history of the tradition and how its meaning has evolved over the past century, including changes to the dresses,” said curator Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe), Northrop professor of American studies and American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota. “Until recent decades, it remained primarily an Ojibwe and Dakota tradition. When visitors see the exhibit, they will appreciate the jingle dress dance as a modern tradition, but one with a foundation in Ojibwe song and dance.”

Exhibition content, curated by Child and her students, is presented in both English and Ojibwe. The exhibition is a partnership between the Minnesota Historical Society, the University of Minnesota Department of American Studies, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community.

Zibaaska’ iganagoodday: The Jingle Dress at 100 will be on display through Oct. 31, 2020, at Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. A symposium on the jingle dress and its history will be held at the museum in June 2019.

About the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post

Mille Lacs Indian MuseumThe Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post includes a museum dedicated to the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a fully restored 1930s trading post with art and related merchandise made by local and national Native artists. The site is located on U.S. Highway 169 on the southwest shore of Lake Mille Lacs. For more information, visit www.mnhs.org/millelacs.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Quick Facts

Exhibition: Zibaaska’ iganagoodday: The Jingle Dress at 100
Dates: April 3, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2020
Location: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Drive, Onamia, MN 56359
Cost: Included with general museum admission – $10 adults, $8 seniors, veterans/active military, college students, $6 ages 5-17, free for age 4 and under and for MNHS members and Mille Lacs Band members


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