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Native Americans performed the raindance to bring rain to help crops grow and produce a bountiful harvest, especially in the Southwest where the climate provided little rain, and in August, the hottest and driest month. Historically, both men and women performed the raindance. For most other ceremonies and rituals, only men participated. Today, some American Indian tribes still perform the raindance. During a bad drought in 1988, Leonard Crow Dog traveled to northern Ohio from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota to perform a raindance.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

Form two lines parallel to each other and about four feet apart. Men stand in one line; women in the other.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

Step forward with your left foot.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

Raise your right foot while moving forward and bring that foot to the floor. The men can stomp more vigorously than the women.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

Continue to step forward in this way--left foot, right foot higher, stomp to floor. Unlike other Native American dances performed in a circle, rain dancers move in a square pattern around the sides of the room or area in which they’re dancing.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

During one measure of the song, and while moving forward, face to the right. During the next measure, face to the left. A zigzagging pattern is formed as you continue on in this manner.

Brandi Lambert/Demand Media

Between measures, dancers can stop and twirl in imitation of the wind, which is showing the promise of rain. The women may chant or sing the song that’s playing, and the men can yelp with the beat.