In honor of my Dad’s 70th birthday (Sunday), I am dedicating three sets of regalia I have sewn for St. Joseph’s powwow. I think this is a fitting tribute. My Dad’s grandfather was born on the Yankton Indian reservation here in South Dakota, before moving to Michigan in the early 1900’s.
Grandpa kept his heritage a secret, probably because of the prejudices of that period. So many of the great things about my dad are things he learned from his grandpa, and these are things he passed on to my brothers—skills in carpentry, camping, fixing things and telling stories. Sadly, Dad didn’t learn about his Nakota traditions growing up, so this wasn’t something he was able to share with us kids. This makes me sad when I think about it.
Later in life, Dad started getting curious about his grandfather’s history, and started learning about Native American traditions and culture. I think this influenced my decision to work at St. Joseph’s Indian School and to participate in the seventh grade Cultural Trip for the past two years. I want today’s kids to know and be proud of their culture.
My family history is important to me. My mother’s family has a proud tradition of sewing. Busha (my great grandma) used to sew vestments for the parish priest, and I learned to sew on her treadle machine. I feel closest to my mom and Grammy when I am sewing. When I make regalia, I feel like I am honoring both of my great-grandmas — my Polish one and my Nakota one.
I am grateful to the donors and supporters of St. Joseph’s Indian School, who make things like powwow, our cultural trip and ceremony possible. In this season of giving, sometimes the gift of memories and pride are the most lasting of all. Thanks again, Claire!