My dress was made in the TANF dress making class with Diane James. She did a lot of work on it. I am pretty proud of her and very thankful for it.
Making the dress was a process: getting the hide, making the bear grass, getting the materials together and clean. I think the pine nuts were the most difficult. It was neat though because I had my gram, my sister, my brother all working on it. My gram would scrape the black off, my sister would get the rest of the black off cause my gram can’t see that well, and then my brother would grab them and drill holes in them, put them in a pile, and clean them out. It was a cool process because everyone worked on it. And all those pine nuts on that dress are from them and it’s neat because I can look at that dress and “every little tiny pine nut on there came from my family.”
The first time I wore it was on the last day of my Flower Dance. That was the day I was coming out and I was being seen for the first time by everyone. It was such a strong feeling... It was like when a butterfly comes out of the cocoon and it’s so beautiful. It felt like that. I felt good about myself .
Since that time I’ve worn it almost in every brush dance. It’s pretty cool because when you’re dancing in the Brush Dances you have your own little thing going on and sometimes you can hear your own noise out of all the other girls. I’ve worn it in almost in every brush dance. And I wore it at Sovereigns day for the dress show. I acknowledged all the people that worked on it. I let everyone see it. It’s a lot of work to put together, but it’s worth it.
Naishian Richards is Hupa and Shoshone. She lives in Hoopa, CA.
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