Rain Dances of the Jemez Pueblo
The rain dances of the Jemez Pueblo people are documented in a 1947 film from Dudley Pictures Corporation’s “This Land is Ours” series of educational travelogues. Rain dances are a form of weather modification that span a number of cultures across the world. The ritual has deep historical roots and is still practiced in a diverse range of areas, including Zimbabwe, Slovakia, and Native American communities. While many Native American rituals involved only men, the rain dance was unique in that women also participated—an indication of the importance of rain to the entire community. The dance was more common to Native American tribes who lived in dry, Southwestern regions which received little rain. Indeed, the Pueblos, who have historically resided in a very arid region of New Mexico, have a particularly intricate rain dance. Movements, costumes, and instruments are chosen and designed for their symbolic qualities. For example, the beating of a drum might represent thunder; a white woven sash, flowing water; and turquoise appliques, rain droplets.