Stomp Dance – Performed by various Eastern Woodland tribes including the Muscogee Creek, Yuchi, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Caddo, Delaware, Miami, Ottawa, Peoria, Shawnee, Seminole, Natchez, and Seneca-Cayuga, the Stomp Dance is a ceremony that contains both religious and social meaning. The term “Stomp Dance” is an English term, which refers to the “shuffle and stomp” movements of the dance. In the native Muskogee language the dance is called Opvnkv Haco, which can mean “drunken,” “crazy,” or “inspirited” dance, referring to the effect the medicine and dance have on the participants. A nighttime event, the dance is affiliated with the Green Corn Ceremony by the Muscogee Creek, Cherokee, and other Southeastern Indians.
These dances are generally performed several times during the summer months to insure the community’s wellbeing. Performed by both men and women, these events may include some 30 or more performances, each sung by a different leader and may also include other dances such as the Duck Dance, Friendship Dance, or the Bean Dance.
When a leader begins, he circles the sacred fire and is followed in single file by those who wish to participate. Leading the dancers counter-clockwise around the fire, participants sing, shake leg rattles, and dance in a stomping step. Men and women alternate positions behind the leader, organizing themselves by age and skill, with the youngest and least experienced dancers at the end of the line.
Dancing typically starts well after dark and continues until dawn of the next day. Participants who are making a religious commitment will begin fasting after midnight, and are obligated to stay awake the whole night. The “medicine” taken by participants is made from roots and plants which have been ceremonially gathered and prepared by a Healer. Dancing continues until the sun rises, at which point the event is concluded.