New Exhibit Explores the History of the Ojibwe Jingle Dress and Marks Its 100th Anniversary

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 11, 2019
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Quick facts: 

Exhibit: “Ziibaaska’ iganagooday: The Jingle Dress at 100” 
Dates: April 3, 2019-Oct. 31, 2020
Location: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Dr., 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 

New Exhibit Explores the History of the Ojibwe Jingle Dress and Marks Its 100th Anniversary

“Ziibaaska’ iganagooday: The Jingle Dress at 100” will open April 3 at Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post

One hundred years ago in 1918-1919 when the global influenza pandemic killed millions worldwide, including thousands of Native Americans, a revolutionary new tradition of healing emerged in Ojibwe communities in North America: 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. 

Opening Wednesday, April 3, the new exhibit “Ziibaaska’ iganagooday: The Jingle Dress at 100” at Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post explores the story of the ziibaaska’ 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. 

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 and 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.”

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

“Ziibaaska’ iganagooday: 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. 

This exhibit is supported in part by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

About the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
The 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.

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.

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

Minnesota Historical Society

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jingle dress regalia created by Jessica Rock, Leech Lake, 2008

Minnesota Historical Society

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