Sapulpa Indian Education students make ribbon skirts

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(SPS) — Sapulpa Indian Education students gathered after school on Wednesday to craft handmade traditional ribbon skirts as part of Native American Heritage Month.

The long skirts, typically made of plain or small-patterned cotton fabric, can be designed as either rectangular or “A-line.”

Michelle Benning, who works with students in Sapulpa’s Indian Education Department, says Native American women first wore ribbon skirts because they are full enough to accommodate “shells” or “cans” worn around the lower legs during a traditional stomp dance. At one time, Benning says, the ribbons and patterns used in the skirts signified which families individuals belonged to; however, she says, now women choose any pattern and color they like. The skirts are a symbol of womanhood– a celebration of self-expression and Indigenous culture. Men may wear ribbon shirts to stomp dances and other cultural gatherings.

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Benning and cultural liaison Keyla Deerinwater led the lesson, walking students through measuring, ironing, and cutting fabric, then placing and sewing ribbon.

Students will continue to work on their ribbon skirts for several weeks. Sapulpa’s Indian Education Department offers cultural lessons throughout the year and as part of Native American Heritage Month.

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On Friday, December 1, Sapulpa Indian Education will set up its tepee and sell ornaments and food at the Route 66 Christmas Chute.

Sapulpa Indian Education staff wear handmade ribbon skirts.