taaniši eeweemaaciki peehkiciihaawaaci?
How Did Families Dress them Well?
We have learned that at the height of ribbonwork production in the 1830s, Myaamiihkwiaki ‘Myaamia women’ worked together to produce ribbonworked clothing that members of their family wore on special occasions. With great thought, they selected colors and patterns and likely worked together in small groups as they shaped ribbons and carefully stitched them into complex patterns. Onto the finished garments they intermixed silver brooches and jewelry, which accented the geometric patterns so that their loved ones would be bathed in waawaahsinaakwahki ‘shimmering.’ When these garments were worn at a council or a community dance, the shimmering effect would grab the attention of those watching.
Because of the time, effort and expense of creating ribbonwork, its public use symbolically represented the labor of the wearer’s extended kinship network. Ribbonwork garments communicated to an audience that the wearer was highly regarded and well cared for by their family and their community. As our Myaamia community became fragmented by the pressures of forced removal, land loss, and cultural oppression, the ability of our family groups to clothe their relatives in beauty declined. Today, our extended Myaamia family groups are once again wrapping our loved ones in ribbonwork garments. The revitalization of ribbonwork in the context of the broader cultural revitalization is recreating a physical and cultural space where we as Myaamia people exhibit waawaahsinaakwahki, the ‘shimmering’ that had been sought by our ancestors for generations.