Dance Like a Chicken Day is May 14.
Did you know "The Chicken Dance" was first introduced in the US at the Tulsa Oktoberfest in 1981? Did you know the Chicken Dance was originally the Duck Dance? Learn more about The Chicken Dance and chickens on the Chicken Facts Page.
The Chicken Dance
Oklahoma's Lesser Prairie Chicken
Parts of Oklahoma are home to the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Historically, the Lesser Prairie Chicken was common throughout the western third of the state. They were dependent on large expanses of native prairie that had periodic disturbance from fire and grazing. Since the land run and settlement of the 1890s, most high-quality LPC habitat has been lost because of the conversion of prairies and shrubland to cropland, introduced pasture and development. Currently the birds can be found in Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Harper, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties.
Males advertise their territories by putting on a gobbling display. This behavior is exhibited mainly in spring, but occurs year-round. During the display, males erect their feathered pinnae, inflate their gular sacs, drop their wings, stamp their feet and make a unique, high-pitched gobble. Often two males will face off and gobble in a fast cadence. Also, short verticle flights, called flutterjumps, and cackling are performed between gobbling.
The Chicken Dance is one of the oldest forms of dancing. The Men's Chicken Dance style originates amongst the Blackfoot people. The Blackfoot are very proud of this dance. It started out as a religious society known as the Kiitokii Society. The Kiitokii Society is still practiced to this day on the Siksika First Nation in Southern Alberta, Canada.
This is the story that is told of how this society came to the Blackfoot. Long ago there was a young Blackfoot man hunting to get food for his family. He heard a noise in the distance. It sounded like something was thumping on the ground. He got very curious and followed this sound. As he approached the sound he saw these prairie chickens dancing in the tall grass. He took his bow and arrow and shot and killed one of these birds. He brought the carcass back home and his wife prepared it for the evening feast. As the man's family was done eating their dinner, they went to lay their heads down for the night. When this man was sleeping he had a dream that this prairie chicken spirit came to him and asked him "Why did you kill me? We were doing a sacred dance of my people." The man replied that he needed to feed his family. The prairie chicken honored this and told this man that he was going to teach him the sacred dance of his people. He was to go out there and teach every man this dance and if he did not do as he was told this prairie chicken was going to come back and take this man's life. This is how the Prairie Chicken Society and Men's Chicken Dance came to the Blackfoot people.
Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.