The Jingle Dress: Native Culture and Mystery!

O’siyo. Full of intrigue, mystery, and culture (both old and new) The Jingle Dress is a Native film about an Ojibwe family  and their move from the rural White Earth Band Indian Reservation to the urban environment of Minneapolis. The uncle of John Red Elk has mysteriously died, and the family needs to find out what happened to him. Through the family’s eyes we gain insight into an ancient, indigenous society, and learn values from a new one. ICTNM interviewed one of the stars Stacey Thunder.

Chaske Spencer, S'Nya Sanchez-Hohenstein, Mauricimo Sanchez-Hohenstein, and Stacey Thunder as the Red Elk family in 'The Jingle Dress.' Photo courtesy The Jingle Dress.

Chaske Spencer, S’Nya Sanchez-Hohenstein, Mauricimo Sanchez-Hohenstein, and Stacey Thunder as the Red Elk family in ‘The Jingle Dress.’ Photo courtesy The Jingle Dress.

Excerpt: Packed House: Actress Stacey Thunder on ‘The Jingle Dress’ Sneak Preview Screening. ICTNM

“On Saturday, April 5, The Jingle Dress made its debut in a sold-out sneak preview screening at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. The film stars Stacey Thunder, Kimberly Guerrero, Chaske Spencer and Steve Reevis. “The screening went great and there was definitely a packed house — chairs were added in the very back of the theater,” says Thunder, who took a few moments to discuss the film with ICTMN.”

Sisters Janet (Kimberly Guerrero) and Elsie (Stacey Thunder) share a laugh in a scene from The Jingle Dress.

Sisters Janet (Kimberly Guerrero) and Elsie (Stacey Thunder) share a laugh in a scene from The Jingle Dress.

ICTNM: What’s The Jingle Dress about?

It’s a contemporary story of a Native American family who move from their rural home on the reservation in northern Minnesota to the faster paced urban environment of Minneapolis. I play Elsie, the mother of the Red Elk family. She is the backbone of the family and loves them dearly. She is very strong, yet sensitive and looks to her husband John (Chaske Spencer) and sister Janet (Kimberly Guerrero), for support.  She worries about her family as they experience their new life in Minneapolis.

By most accounts, women's Jingle Dress Dance has its roots in some part of Ojibwe country. St. Albert Gazette.

By most accounts, women’s Jingle Dress Dance has its roots in some part of Ojibwe country. St. Albert Gazette.

ICTNM: What is the significance of the jingle dress to the story?

Its healing power. After Elsie tells her daughter Rose the story of the dress while making it for her, Rose wears and dances in the dress in order to help her family.

ICTNM: You worked with Chaske Spencer, who’s one of the most accomplished Native actors in recent times, what was that like?

It was great! Chaske is a nice guy and fun to work with. In fact, there were a lot of smiles and laughs on set because everyone, including our amazing crew, got along so well.

Jingle Dress dancers at a White Earth Reservation powwow. MinnPost photo by Steven Date.

Jingle Dress dancers at a White Earth Reservation powwow. MinnPost photo by Steven Date.

ICTNM: For better or worse, it seems most films about the contemporary Native experience have an educational element — seeking to help people outside Native culture gain some understanding of it. Is there an element of that going on in this film?

The Jingle Dress shows a real side to our lives today — that we are still here and still very real. And by watching the Red Elk family, viewers get to learn about one unique Indigenous culture and tradition, which is very important, but that they’ll also see Native peoples are also human beings like them who have and share the same feelings, hopes, dreams, goals and challenges. Read more…

Kudos to the cast and supporters of this wonderful film!

 “ There are several slightly different versions of the Jingle dress’s origination story. One is that the first dress was made for a very sick girl by a medicine man, who saw the dress in a vision. The dress was made and the sick girl was healed by dancing in the dress. This dress is considered sacred by many people. It  is often called a “medicine dress”.  ~Ojibway~

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Category: Films