Over the course of a semester my students association offered a Jingle Dress program. These dresses are very close to our hearts in my Ojibway culture. It is a healing dress originating from the 1800's to help heal our people. My university is on site of an Indian Residential School, a school where they took my ancestors away from their homes and families to convert them into Canadian society. It was a sad time in our history and more than 50 000 children are missing from the schools that were country wide. Where are the children? Dancing of this sort of nature was banned less than 100 years ago. I hold my head high through the racism and hatred still felt today.
We used a costume pattern from Simplicity 5446 just for the dress. I used the XL but its so flowy and loose I could have went for an L. These dresses are supposed to be fitting and encourage posture and form for a lady-like appearance. I used approx 200 cones in gold, the cones are snuff lids bent into shape. A lot of bias tape is needed. The tape is fused on with heat and bond than sewed at the top and because its double fold bias you insert the knotted tabs, also cut from bias tape, and sew the bias bottom. Ric Rac is that squiggly stuff for decoration. I used applique for sleeve and side decorations. They represent my colours and my clan.
I had a dress previously but I outgrew it. Most of the time these dresses come from family who help make it and prepare the person for this. It is a learning process and its very sacred and should never be taken advantage of. I had help from my boyfriend but I did want to do it myself because my life is lonesome since I lost my mother, my family crumbled and I wanted to be able to do this on my own. It helped me grow. But, so did my boyfriend he's wonderful but I need to do things for myself some times. I'm so happy to be able to dance again. I once had a special request from a woman who has stayed in my heart since, she gave me semaa (tobacco, we give this as an offering) to dance for all the broken hearts. I danced for her that day and I dance every time for those broken hearts. I know how it feels and this is the most powerful prayer I was ever asked of.
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