Why We Dance

In Innu culture, dancing is a way to celebrate and express happiness. Innu people dance before hunting caribou, at big feasts, weddings, and holiday celebrations. They dance to the sound of a drum played by a shaman (kamataukatshiut) or elder. Dancing is a way to acknowledge and maintain harmony between people and the world around them.

Many elders who were interviewed for this project said that dancing made them happy and reminded them of the country. One woman said, “I remember how beautiful the country is when I dance: the water, fish, mountains, berries, ducks and birds. I love to dance.” Another woman said the drumming echoes the sound of snowshoes on ice when you walk alone in the country. [Insert video: tru.innu.why.i.dance.mov]

Innu believe that dancing makes the animal spirits happy. Animal spirits were happy when the Innu respected the animals by cleaning and disposing of the remains properly. These animal spirits dance when they are happy, just as people dance when they are happy.

Dancing is also about expressing love between people. “You love each other when you dance,” said one elder. If you want to know more about dance, music and what people wore, click on the links below:

To learn more about the occasions when Innu dance, click on the links below:

To read about Innu relationship to animals that are linked to dance and ceremony, look at these links:

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online
Native Dance