Ribbon Dance

The Creeks and Their Dances (10)

By Ghost Dancer

The ceremonial grounds are the backbone of all Southeastern Creek peoples. Before the removal there were numerous towns and each town had its own ceremonial grounds, the place where tribal members practiced their religious ceremonies.

The Ribbon Dance is the most important dance of all among Southeastern Native peoples. Traditionally, the Ribbon Dance has always been performed at the Green Corn Ceremony – every community’s annual cleansing and renewal – but is also widely used before many other ceremonies as well.

The Ribbon Dance honors our women who give us life, our bloodlines and our connection to Mother Earth and our Creator. The ribbons symbolize the umbilical cord and the dance reaffirms the connection of our mothers, grandmothers and all females to Mother Earth, Grandmother Sun, and to all of our bloodlines which are connected together by this umbilical cord.

All Creeks know that women are the true power of the tribes, clans, towns and nation. The ribbon symbolizes not only our bloodline connection, but also our DNA and spiritual connections to all things that exist. Even the colors of the ribbons signify the clan we belong to. The Ribbon Dance highlights and reaffirms that we feel and understand this connection at all times. In ancient times, these beautiful ribbons were made from braided hemp fibers dyed in an array colors from plants and other natural sources.

As preparations are made for the annual Green Corn, four women are selected to lead the Ribbon Dance. These women will serve in these matters for four years as the lead dancers. After four years, selection will be done again. Some women are selected many times and it is always a high honor to be selected.

The Ribbon Dance is held in the evening the day before the Green Corn Ceremony. The dance begins when four calls are made by the town crier (announcer) to make sure all the singers, drummers and dancers for the Ribbon Dance are prepared. The women all wear bright colored dresses with ribbons of their clan colors streaming from their hair and dresses. At this time the men sit in the arbors and two will drum and sing while only the women dance.

The women who were selected lead the other ladies in a colorful procession of dancers moving counter-clockwise around the grounds four times. Holding hands the leaders step out on their right foot, forming a line, side stepping around the ground. Behind the leaders come the clan mothers and behind them the beloved women who represent unity among all the people. The younger women and then the girls gradually join hand as the dancers proceed around the grounds, all side stepping with their colorful ribbons streaming from their hair, arms and hands.

As the lead dancers reach the starting point they take a step inward to begin forming an inward spiral for the second round. The dance pace quickens with each round. After the first four rounds, one by one the men and boys join the dance, falling in between the women. With ribbons flying from their arms and hands, they bring their male energy to the dance of honor and respect for all women. Once all the men and boys have joined in, the spiral of dancers covers the grounds.

As the dance ends, the four leaders, now positioned in the very center, stand close together like posts representing the sacred directions, East, South, West, North, Above and Below tying all the dancers and everyone together with a sense of love, balance and beauty. Now, the dancers respectfully remain still while the leaders, elders, clan mothers, and beloved women all make their way off to be seated in places of honor in the arbors surrounding the grounds.

At this time, the town crier will announce the next dance designated by the musicians. The drums will begin again and the dancing will continue on into the night.

Women are the ones who lead in our way of life and we as males follow their lead (or wish we had). This is why the four who are chosen to lead the dance are so honored and in turn have others join them as the dance goes on.

Now I know that in today’s society, many men believe they are better or of a higher status than women. But men, listen up, realistically you are not! And traditionally you never were and never could be for all women were highly respected and above men in all matters.


© Ghost Dancer 2021

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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