World Champion Hoop Dancer From Wyoming Shares Her Story Of Hope And Strength
I was blown away by Jasmine's performance because it was SO much more than just a performance. I could feel her connection to the hoop dance...The hoop dance is a dance of healing, connectedness, and prayer. Jasmine's dancing symbolizes our connection to others, and anyone that watches her can feel it. -Linsday Linton
Lindsay Linton is the project director, photographer, and podcast host of Women In Wyoming.
The goal of the Women In Wyoming project is to urge today and tomorrow's trailblazing, ambitious, and community-minded women and girls to step forward and fulfill their highest ambitions in life.
Over the last few years, this project has shared the stories of several Wyoming Women.
Linton uses her beautiful photography to capture the essence of Wyoming Women and then allows them to share their stories in their own words through podcasts.
Her most recently featured Wyoming Woman is Jasmine Pickner Bell, or Cunku Was’te Win’ meaning “Good Road Woman” in Dakota.
Bell has lived on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming for over a decade with her husband (who she met at Frontier Days) and their children.
Bell's father is the renowned hoop dancer Dallas Chief Eagle, and he began training her at an early age. While the hoop dance traditionally allows only men to perform, her father saw Bells’s natural strength and bright spirit as a way to bring balance and unity back into the hoop dance.
After the tragic loss of her brother (who was also a hoop dancer) in a car accident, Bell decided to take what she had learned from her family and participate in the World Championship Hoop Dance Competition.
She was NOT the first female to compete in this event, but she WAS the first female to wear a traditional dress (rather than men's attire) while competing, and the first female to ever win the championship.
Bell went on to win her second title the following year, and due to her influence, many women now wear their traditional dresses to compete in the hoop dance.
In her interview, Bell talks about the challenges of being a parent trying to pass on her values to her children.
She explained how she has seen the hoop dance allow her to connect both old and new in a beautifully captivating way that anyone watching can understand.
Bell shared that traveling across the nation educating others and sharing her message of hope, strength, and connection through her dancing has given her a new purpose.
I was particularly struck by how she has seen her dancing change over the years. As she has gone from a young teenager to a mother, her movement and designs within the hoop dance have shifted and transformed to match her new identity.
Below is a short video showing Jasmine Pickner Bell dancing.