First Voice Speaks with Smoke Dancer Soleil Strickland

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown May 27th, 2014 Last Updated on: May 27th, 2014

You might remember the video we shared earlier this year of a woman smoke dancer dancing in downtown Chicago. Her name is Soleil Strickland and she recently competed in the Gathering of Nations Smoke Dance Special and took 3rd place.


American Indian Center of Chicago's newsletter First Voice had the opportunity to catch up with Soleil to ask her a few questions about her GON experience.

First Voice: Hey Sol, congrats on your whole GON experience. How do you feel about the past year of learning, practicing, and participating?

Soleil: Thank you! I feel great. Being able to do what I love with my culture. No words to describe how much pride I have.

FV: So you're a professional dancer, how long have you been dancing?

Soleil: Well I've been dancing since I was in my mom's tummy (according to her lol) I've been a professional dancer since 8th grade, when I was invited to do shows, concerts and join dance groups. I've never took any dance lessons. Everything was self taught and becoming a pro were opportunities given by people who fell in-love with my dancing.

FV: Cyndee told us about it, yesterday. I had no idea you were competing. She said you took 3rd and you were the crowd favorite in the Women's Smoke Dancing Special. What was that like?

Soleil: Shocking, I never experienced a powwow crowd booing before. Other than that it was a great feeling being in my territory – smoke dance. But I was just going out there to have fun.

FV: She said they were booing because you should have won! She said you were the crowd favorite.

Soleil: Yes that's right. Lol

FV: I seen the video you posted is there a better one?

Soleil: Yes there's a lot on my Soleil fan page (Facebook) we'll be posting more soon.

FV: Cool. So I understand that you learned about Smoke Dancing from Cyndee Fox-Starr at the AIC's ‘Remaking the Circle' program last year and then actually learned how to smoke dance by watching Smoke Dancing videos on Youtube, is that right?

Soleil: I never heard of smoke dancing until I entered the sewing circle program with Cyndee. She taught me some of the Iroquois culture but after that information she gave me, I took it upon myself to learn more about the Smoke Dance and where it originates, then I also talked to a couple smoke dancers. One of them blessed me to do the dance and go out there and have fun with it. Since there's no smoke dancers in Chicago, I learned by watching Youtube videos and didn't actually dance until our 60th annual powwow last year.

FV: So, what's next on your dancing agenda?

Soleil: I will be performing in Minneapolis and conducting a workshop with the kids at the Little Earth community on June 13th and then I'm off to the nation's capitol with Native Pride dancers for another performance on June 26th.

FV: Well that's just amazing. We're so proud of you Soleil and wish you all the best in your dancing career and look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Powwows this summer!

Thank you AIC Chicago and First Voice for sharing this interview with us! For more information on Soleil you can follow her Facebook fan page: Soleil Strickland.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » First Voice Speaks with Smoke Dancer Soleil Strickland

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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Irene Knight

Soleil’s parents are both Native American descent.She is a dancer and performer and dances to all music. She started dancing
before she could walk. She was born with the gift.Lately,
she’s been dancing with some of the greatest Artist.


She didn’t know what tribe she was,told me to ask her mom when she was using AIC community space to practice samba,…..i think that was about two years ago.

Darwin downer

Don’t really think she has a tribe,I know she was a professional dancer for years,instant Indian? Cultural Appropriation? shes making money hand over fist.

irene knight

Soleil has always acknowledged her Dineh and Chowtaw tribe.

Dorene Wiese

What tribe is she? That was not in the article?

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