Jingle Dress Project: How Jingle Dresses Are Being Used to Heal Communities

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    Jingle Dress Project: How Jingle Dresses Are Being Used to Heal Communities

    The dresses they wear have been an especially powerful tool to share elements of their culture with others. Traditionally, jingle dress dancers wear regalia adorned with beadwork and ribbon work, as well as triangular metal cones around the skirt, which shake and create a distinctive sound with each step. The dresses are customized for each dancer as well. “My dress is yellow, one of my favorite colors, but my Navajo name is Sháńdíín, which means sunshine, so I chose yellow to reflect the sun,” says Dion. “Usually, jingle dresses have straight rows of jingles, but I really like it when they have an A-frame.” Her sister, Erin, adds, “I wanted my dress to be blue, because of the experience I had at [the] Standing Rock [pipeline protests]. The blue represents water.” 

    Photo: Eugene Tapahe

    The accessories the four jingle dress dancers wear are also embedded with special meaning. “We wear red scarves with a jingle dress dancer on it, to symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women,” says Dion. “Every time we go out, we dance in prayer for those who are missing and those who have been impacted.” Where they have worn the striking regalia has also told its own story as well. “The jingle dress comes from the Ojibwe people, and we were able to go back to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe [territory], where the jingle dress originates,’ says Sunni. “It was a great honor and blessing to be able to dance under the same sky, and feel the same land that many Ojibwe people have.”

    Photo: Eugene Tapahe

    The project isn’t ending anytime soon, even though COVID-19 rates are now, thankfully, decreasing. Eugene and the four dancers continue to be invited to dance in locations such as Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. “It’s only gotten more popular, and people are responding even more to the project,” says Eugene. He says the best part of it all has been the positive response they’ve been getting from their own community, though. “To be able to hear teenage girls say they are wanting to stop doing drugs and alcohol, so that they can start dancing, or to go back to college—people are calling the girls role models,” he says. “Those are the things that really motivate and make us understand the power of the dress.”

    Photo: Eugene Tapahe

    Published at Tue, 02 Nov 2021 21:09:10 +0000

    https://www.vogue.com/article/jingle-dress-project-indigenous-design

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