I made my bark skirt for my Flower Dance. This was one of the main skirts you wore when you ran, when you had to go down to the river, bathe and pray. I was told that this was a dress for a long time ago that you wore every day. It means that you are wearing something that your ancestors wore. You’re connecting with them in some way because they were doing it and then it still carried on for us to keep doing. My skirt was also pretty tough. It went through sand, it went through dirt, it went through stepping on… but it went through it. I would say my skirt is pretty tough.
The method for making the skirt came from Mary Jane Risling. I thought it would be way more complicated. I would have made it so complicated and so hard on myself. But the way she showed me, I thought “I could make this for days.”
To gather bark we went up the hill, stripped the bark, peeled it right then and there. And then we started making it and we came up short. So that next day we went up and gathered more bark, but we came up short again! What this did is that my dress has different colored bark on it. It goes dark, light, dark, light. And that is so special to me because you can see the process that we went through. You can see where certain bark started and stopped. And that is not such a bad thing. I think this dance is about making memories and making things that are special to you. I thought it was special how my process went. Everyone worked on it. It just all came together.
Naishian Richards is Hupa and Shoshone. She lives in Hoopa, CA.
The Northwest Coast Regalia Stories Project explores the life stories of cultural regalia pieces for Northwest California Native peoples. Read More...
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