Shell Shakers: Stomp Dance Rhythm-Makers
Turtle shell shakers are used in traditional stomp dances and are worn on the legs of Chickasaw women. Today, these shakers are either made with turtle shells or, more commonly, with cans often embellished with turtle shapes. This signifies an abiding respect for animals and the gifts they give to humans.
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.