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Gathering with Native Americans from Sisseton, South Dakota, Big Stone County, Minnesota.

The late 19th century saw Native cultures in the Upper Midwest threatened and changing, but continuing to survive in innovative and clever ways. Part and parcel of that survival was the rise of the pow wow tradition, as well as the establishment of new traditions to cope with difficult times. 

In this photograph of a group of Anishinaabe dancers circa the early 20th century, one can see the men dressed in the traditional beaded Ojibwe florals depicted throughout this exhibit. Equally important, however, is the appearance of a new cultural style at the far right: two women at the edge of the group wear Jingle Dresses. Thought to have originated circa 1900 with the Minnesota Ojibwe at Red Lake or Mille Lacs, the dress is said to have its origins in a vision given to a Midewiwin practitioner of a dress that would heal both the women who danced it and the communities they danced for. Given the difficulty of being Indian in North America at the turn of the 20th century, it’s no surprise that the dance immediately spread throughout the U.S. and Canada, and is now a pow wow mainstay.