I made my bark skirt with my mom and my aunt Poppy. I made it for my Flower Dance (women’s coming of age ceremony). It was one of the required pieces that I needed for running up and down the river, steaming and other everyday tasks that I did during the ceremony. It was important to me that I learn how to make a bark skirt and not just to have everyone make it for me so that I can pass on that knowledge to people in the future.
The skirt is fairly light and a bit scratchy on the legs if you are not wearing spandex. It has distinct swishing noise that it makes when you are running and all the bark pieces hit together. You can also get a bark skirt wet. For example, you can get in the river when you do the bathing as part of the ceremony. This is an important every day kind of dress because you can wear it with most things that you do.
Natalie Carpenter (Hupa, Yurok, Karuk) teaches Life Science in San Jose, CA. She is a graduate of Stanford University.
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