Treasured Objects: Raven Halfmoon

Treasured Objects: Raven Halfmoon

Contributors share the personal significance of handcrafted gifts they’ve received.
woman standing outside beside a building wearing traditional ribbon skirt

Photo courtesy of Raven Halfmoon.

Ribbon skirts are traditionally worn by Native American women and made for special ceremonies, gatherings, and events. They have been adopted by most tribes and serve a multitude of purposes. Traditional skirts or dresses usually consist of a lot of fabric that gathers around the waist, and they usually touch the ground and consist of calico fabric. They were long because they were meant to be closer to Mother Earth and her medicine. Each tribe, artist, and maker creates their own designs, patterns, and styles.

Skirts are worn at cultural events and powwows, and I wear them on a daily basis in my personal life. One ribbon skirt was made by my aunt and given to me as a birthday present. It fits me perfectly, and every time I wear it, I think about my aunt and our experiences together.

It’s cut to my knees and made from black cotton and has an elastic waistband. The colors on the skirt represent the Oklahoma sky and sunset. The first ribbon, closest to the ground, is red, next is orange and then light pink, which fades into a pale yellow and then finishes with white.

Wearing this skirt, I’m honoring the Earth, myself, and other women. Wearing this skirt, I’m also representing my family, my tribe, my culture, and my generation. This skirt is not made to be viewed in a natural history museum or admired in an art gallery. It’s made to be worn and to represent modern Native American people. It is evidence of how resilient Native Americans are. We keep our traditions alive and create new traditions. This skirt gives me voice, and it gives me power whenever I wear it.

Raven Halfmoon is a sculptor and 2019 ACC Emerging Artist finalist. | @ravenhalfmoon

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Cover of Winter 2022 issue of American Craft