rain dance

Encyclopedia Article


The indigenous peoples of the U.S. Southwest each have some version of a rain dance ceremonial. This dance is meant to honor the relationship between the people and the kachinas (or spirit beings) responsible for rain. At many points throughout Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series, various phrases will be used interchangeably to reference the blessings and prayers for rain, calling to mind the variety of beliefs that the people of the Southwest region have with regard to rain in their desert environments.

Photo Credit: 

"Performing the Hopi Snake Dance ceremony at pueblo of Oraibi, Arizona, 1898" by George Wharton James, CA Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960, USC Libraries.

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