Rattles in Native American history are a vital part of life and culture, often referred to as “shakers.” Shakers are used in spiritual ceremonies, to help clear the mind during prayer and to keep the beat during song. They are one of the most common instruments used during ceremonies, both spiritual and otherwise. Most rattles are traditionally made from some type of animal shell, rawhide or leather – with corn, small rocks, beans, or seeds placed inside to make the sound. Rattles often represented the three kingdoms or nations, which are important to Native American belief – The hide or turtle shell represents the animal kingdom, the mineral kingdom is represented by the use of rocks or clay to create the sound, and the plant kingdom with the wooden handle or seeds inside.
Native American rattles are an instrument of storytelling, ceremony and historic culture.