Rattles have been used on many occasions. Native American people often use rattles in ceremonial dances. Oftentimes, these rattles are meant to represent something. Each figure or depiction can relate to something sacred to their tribe. Often, the sound of rattles forms a connection to the supernatural world when the rattles are employed by shamans. The use of the raven rattle, like the one pictured to the right, always implies power, which when used in dances, symbolize the status of the chief, who has a hereditary right to use the rattle.
^Erich M. von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, "Classification of Musical Instruments," Translated from the original German by Anthony Baines and Klaus P. Wachsmann, The Galpin Society Journal XIV (1961), 15-16, http://www.jstor.org/stable/842168.