The modern Hula Hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr. Children and adults around the world have played with hoops, twirling, rolling and throwing them. Traditional materials for hoops include willow, rattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are usually made of plastic tubing, Marlex.
Native American Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from one to thirty hoops as props. These hoops are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, which represent various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements. The dance is generally performed by a solo dancer with multiple hoops. It is said that the name "hula" came from the Hawaiian dance in the 18th century, due to the similar hip movements.
Tid Bit- In the last season of M*A*S*H there is an episode called "Who Knew?" where Sergeant Klinger sees kids playing with barrel rings and fashions a hula hoop-like toy made of metal tubing. He then tries to get Major Winchester to fund putting them into production but is unable to because the major thinks they are silly because he was laughed at while trying to play with one. If he only knew!