The American Indian College Fund has hosted their second “Sister Site Visit” on January 6-8, 2018. Renee O’Kimosh, Project Administrator, from the College of Menominee Nation had the opportunity to visit Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND for their Ribbon Skirt making workshop. Renee writes about her experience as a participant.

Composite image showing the layout of the ribbon skirt materials, fabric and ribbon.

Composite image showing the layout of the ribbon skirt materials, fabric and ribbon.

This weekend, Denise McKay, a Tribal Elder from Fort Yates, North Dakota, brought me to a point in my life that inspired me to look differently at life and my surroundings. Listening to her stories, how she spoke about her mother with love, how she cradled everything that was taught to her, and how she spreads her knowledge to anyone who wants to learn put such a joy in my heart and my soul, I felt as if I would burst when I told my family.

The meaning behind the skirt was softly explained to our group with a passion that brought tears to my eyes. Not understanding the real reason behind the traditional skirt, I soon learned and it is imprinted in my heart. Denise explained that the grounds are sacred and when the skirt touches the earth you become as one. What a gentle way of touching each and every machine that was being used to create this skirt with passion and reason.

The room was quiet and the machines sang a beautiful song. Love went into each skirt and the smiles of completion beamed as each person held up their project with pride. To me, it was a special cleansing, a reason to go home with a smile and a passion to create more.

Composite image of two phases of Renee creating her ribbon skirt, cutting fabric and using a sewing machine. .

Composite image of two phases of Renee creating her ribbon skirt, cutting fabric and using a sewing machine.

Wae Wae Nen (“thank you” in the Menominee language) to the American Indian College Fund for allowing this visit to happen. I made lasting friendships, renewed some old, and through our hugs made special bonds.

Wae Wae Nen to Bridget Skenadore for providing me with the opportunity to attend and to the donors who keep these gifts alive.

“When you put your skirt on, you’re showing Mother Earth who you are.” – Myra Laramee (Fisher River Cree Nation)

Renee with her finished skirt

Renee with her finished skirt.