Northwest Coast Regalia Stories Project
With support from Cal Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.
Cutcha Risling Baldy
Dr. Beth Rose Middleton
With Thanks To
Mary J. Risling (Me'Dil Institute)
Dr. Beth Rose Middleton
Kristi Smith (Yurok Designs & Photo)
Native Women's Collective
Consider donating to this project so that we can continue to build our exhibit and publications! Click here
Introduction by Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa, Karuk, Yurok) &
Rachel Sundberg (Ner-er-ner/Pu-lik-lah)
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
This project began around a kitchen table. The two of us were dreaming big dreams about a nonprofit organization that we hoped to start one day. We said we would call it The Native Women's Collective. This organization would be a place that supported Native artists and would help them to give back to their communities by organizing and funding workshops, classes and demonstrations. We would invite people to our table, we would feed them and listen to their dreams and make those dreams happen.
Some of the things we wanted to do?
Language revitalization, education, booth sales, presentations, exhibits,
documentaries, gatherings, story telling and service to our communities.
During dessert we started telling some of our regalia stories. "You know what would be great," we thought, "to document these stories. Every piece of regalia has a story, a biography, a life that we are all a part of..." and we both reflected on two special dresses that we had in our families. It was then we looked at each other and said, "let's do it." That was 2008. In 2009 the Native Women's Collective became a nonprofit organization 501(c)(3).
The CAL HUMANITIES: Community Stories Grant has given us the opportunity to start our Northwest Coast Regalia Stories project. The “NWC Regalia Stories” explores the life of cultural regalia pieces for Northwest California Native peoples. This digital humanities project also reflects on the history and biographies of these Native regalia pieces through the last century. The personal perspectives and experiences of living regalia makers reveal the meanings embedded in the regalia. These traditions are represented through collected stories and mixed-media to illustrate the remarkable continuance of these cultures. For the start of this project we are focusing on women's regalia pieces, but we fully intend to continue with this project and to incorporate men's regalia pieces as well.
We invite people to share regalia stories with us. As we put together this online exhibit, we have been awed by the heartfelt words of our many story tellers. We are also indebted to our contributors who provided us with short articles about various types of women's regalia from Northwest California. There were many themes and ideas that emerged from their writings and stories including:
We also hope that other Native peoples from around the world will share with us their regalia stories. If you would like us to publish your regalia story, click on the picture to the left OR click here. We look forward to hearing from you.
About this exhibit:
To navigate the online exhibit you can click on any of the topics at the top left of the page. Each section provides different information that will help you to learn more about these regalia pieces. For the first part of this project we are focusing on two dresses that have been worn by multiple generations of Native women from Northwest California. We have also collected numerous personal vignettes from community members telling us about their regalia stories.
About the Dresses: This section introduces the two dresses featured in this initial phase of the project. Both of these dresses have been utilized by multiple generations of women throughout the past 100 years.They are currently owned by Viola Risling and Joy Sundberg.
California History: This section provides a quick overview of California Indian History, the Gold Rush and salvage ethnography.
Native American Women & Regalia: This section provides a history and discussion of Native American Women and their regalia pieces.This includes information on: bark skirts, buckskin dresses, basket caps, dentalia, blue jay veils, and contemporary jewelry. On each of these pages you will be able to read personal stories from Northwest California Indian women about their regalia.
Online Exhibit Tour: Take a quick online tour of the dresses and learn more about how they are made and what they are made out of. This tour is powered by Prezi.
Links & Sources: On this page you will find information about sources used in each article, useful websites, organizations from Northwest California, tribes of Northwest California and photo credits.
Feedback/ Evaluation Form: Please take a moment to fill out our evaluation form to help us as we continue to expand on this project. You can also register to win a prize!
We hope that this exhibit enhances your understanding of contemporary Native peoples in California through an exploration of the cultures, peoples and histories that helped to build and rebuild the state from time immemorial. Please check back often as we continue to update our collected archive, exhibition, and interactive website with documentary film shorts and photo essays of regalia stories. And please remember to fill out our feedback/ evaluation form!
Thank You -- ts'ehdiyah -- wokhlew -- yôotva -- shu'-shaa-nin-la
We could not have completed so much work on this project without the help of so many from our community. We are grateful to everyone who submitted a "regalia story," for those who were interviewed as part of our forthcoming documentary shorts, for those who completed research and writing about the various topics, for those who sent in photos, took photos and for those who encouraged us along the way. Thank you so very much for your continued contributions to our organization.