Historically, stomp dancing has its roots in the Green Corn Ceremony, springtime celebrating harvest, redemption, and forgiveness. Men sing stomp dance songs in a call-and-answer format, following a male song leader, who often sets the dance rhythm using a handheld turtle shell rattle.
Women enhance the rhythms with shakers made from box turtle shells worn on their legs. The use of turtle shells is intended to show respect and gratitude to the animal world for providing so many good things for the people.
Chickasaws believe that the fire at the center of the dance circle is the embodiment of Aba' Binni'li' (the Creator) on earth and that the smoke carries our prayers to the Creator. Stomp dancers move counterclockwise around the fire, so their hearts are closest to the fire, and the smoke lifts their prayers to Aba' Binni'li'.