Toe-Heel Tribal Dance

Indian dances were performed for special purposes.  Some dances were done to celebrate special events; others were performed to ask the spirits for good weather, hunting, and health.  Have students stand in a circle and follow the steps below to perform an Indian dance.

  1. Dancers walk counterclockwise in a toe-to-heel fashion. First, they loudly say "one" as they touch their left toe to the ground.  Then they put their left heel down and softly say "two."
  2. Dancers repeat the action with their right foot and continue to walk toe-to-heel around in the circle.
  3. When dancers master the movements, invite others to beat coffee-can drums as their classmates continue the dance.  Have the drummers beat loudly on the "one" count and softly on the "two."


The Hoop Dance

Because much of the northeast was once covered by trees, the Easter Woodland Indians made good use of the wood, even in their dances.  They often carved large hoops from soft wood, painted and decorated them, then practiced for months to master the dance.

 You can also do the hoop dance using a hula-hoop from home.  Decorate it with feathers and try these dance steps.

  1. Hold the hoop in one hand and climb through it.
  2. Swing it around your waist.  Then drop it down to your legs.  Raise one foot and swing the hoop around it.
  3. Put the hoop down, wiggle your toes under it to pick it up.  Then, without your hands, wiggle it up your body.
  4. Throw the hoop up and catch it in a variety of ways.

Now find a friend to play a drum as you practice in an Indian costume. The best dancers often did this dance with their hoop on fire!


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society