As long as I can remember, dances have been a part of my life. I was lucky to grow up with family who participated in the dances and could provide me with this knowledge. When I was 9 years old, I started making my very own shell dress. With the help of my mother, grandmother and brother, the process began. We committed every Sunday to working on the dress; from gathering materials to beading strand after strand and sewing them on the dress. I chose purple beads for my dress because it was my favorite color at the time. After my dress was finished, my brother helped me make matching hair ties and necklaces to complete the set.
Although this dress is now 15 years old, it continues to dance on young women in ceremony. I enjoy watching my dress dance and it warms my heart when young women ask to wear “the purple dress”. I am thankful to have learned the process of making a dress and look forward to passing on this dress to my daughter as well as helping her in creating her very own dress.
Rachel Provolt is a member of the Yurok Tribe.
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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