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Preparing For My 3rd Indigenous Fashion Week

“The Aikido of Marketing: Go where your customer is and your competition is not willing to go!” Martin Brossman

Join me as I prepare to participate in my third Indigenous Fashion Week in three years.  It’s an honor and privilege that I don’t take lightly to represent the textiles cultural traditions of the dispersed and scattered historical North Carolina Tuscarora Confederacy.  I teach workshops demonstrating color transformation on cloth from plants, flowers, nuts and insects.  My Momma taught me that if we witness transformation before our eyes, it gives us hope that regardless of our present circumstances, we can transform our lives.  The lessons my mother, two grandmothers, a great-grandmother and the elder women in their circles taught me through creating color, stitching and cooking are life lessons that enable me to be strong and resilient.  It was my dying mother’s prayer that I share our survival stories through creative hands experiences associated with natural dyeing and stitching.

This season, I’m enlisting technology to help me share my journey to Indigenous Beauty, Fashion and Design Week at Otahpiaaki 2019 in Calgary, Canada.  The theme this year is Isstoiyitahsinni or Winter Count.  Indigenous Fashion is a gathering place that includes intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual connections to the patterns, designs and garments we choose to wear.

Dried Indigo

I will be broadcasting live on Facebook and Instagram showing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it with a weekly Fiber Fridays where you can ask me questions.  At long last, I’ve figured out how to make videos of my creative process to post on YouTube even though I’m working solo.  And, I will be podcasting once a week on my new channel Seed2Runway.  I will share educational information about events, creative processes and indigenous design elements and interview movers and shakers from the world of indigenous fashion who inspire and influence me.

So where do I begin. I took three workshops sponsored by my local Small Business Center at Wilson Community College:

I purchased the Seed2Runway domain from Google Domains for my podcasts, which in my opinion is better than Go Daddy.  Google is $12 a year and includes email@yourdomain and privacy protection is included.  I’m beginning my podcast endeavor with just my iPhone.  My thinking is to just jump in the podcasting waters and learn by doing. I am writing a script and planning my podcast episodes.  I’m going live one week from today, Friday, October 11th. In the meantime, I’m redesigning my Facebook business page to focus on my new creative direction. Will also be updating my Linkedin profile and taking a more active role in managing that SM platform, since teaching workshops seems to be part of my here and now.

“Life is an adventure which can take you to unknown and unexpected places!” Carola Jones

Fiber Friday: Algonquin Embroidery

Indigenous Stitching Tips, Tricks & Traps

  • Indigenous embroidery differs from European embroidery because it doesn’t use a hoop.  A hoop is a useful modern tool that makes it easy to embroider. However, all wearables and decorative objects aren’t going to fit in a hoop. Also a hoop can distort some fabrics. If you learn how to embroider off a hoop, then using a hoop is an easy transition. But, if you can ONLY use a hoop, being off a hoop can be a difficult and frustrating process to master.
  • Good lighting is essential. If you use a lamp a daylight bulb works best.
  • Thread has a grain that runs from the cut end to the spool. Threading the cut end makes threading easier.
  • “Long Thread, Lazy Gal!” For faster stitching and to keep thread from becoming tangled it should be half a wing (finger tip to elbow – single), or a wing (finger tip to shoulder – double).
  • Needle your thread instead of threading your needle. Choke your thread between your thumb and index finger, then move your needle to it.
  • Pray on your thread by running two fingers over it to condition it from the oils in your fingers. Ask the thread to bring abundant blessings to the garment and anyone who wears it.
  • “The Knot Is The Tie That Binds!” An overhand triple knot for the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans and squash) with a tail is best. We are stitching for the next generation, and a single knot and short tail can come undone with repeated washing and wearing.
  • Keep a supply of Band-Aids and some antibiotic salve in your embroidery supplies. At some point everyone pricks a finger. My favorite antibiotic salves are either honey with CBD oil or black walnut with honey. They both work great!
  • If you add appliqué techniques to fabric that you intend to embroider (with or without beads), you really need to add a stabilizer to the background fabric. I select the stabilizer based on the fabric and/or garment. See the PDF Pellon Guide at Seed 2 Runway link @ http://www.indigofibershed.com. Wool on wool appliqué doesn’t require a stabilizer backing.
  • When adding beads to wearables, “button/craft” thread is best. My Momma was a Home Economics teacher for 42 years and taught me this. I didn’t follow her teaching when I added beads to the silk dress shown below. Instead I used Nymo nylon beading thread. When dress was dry cleaned, I lost beads. Lesson learned!
Silk Printed with Natural Dyes Embellished with bead embroidery

Transformative Thursday: Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Transformative Thursday Step #3: Time and Space as Parameters | 12.12:12.12

Long Nights Moon / Cold Moon 12.12.19 @ 12.12 AM ET

“And we begin again transformed by the process and lessons of the past 13 Moons”

POV | USA Indigenous Southern Creole:  Finding A Point of Balance ~ Centering ~ Letting Go ~ Stepping Out On Faith ~ Wading In The Water ~ Finding Preserving Steadfast Faith & Unshakable Hope 

Our endpoints are the Daughter of Posh between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, laid out as cosmic dots of alignment synching us to the land beneath our feet.  We have a new beginning with the last full moon of this year and decade on 12.12 at 12.12 AM ET. That’s my sign from the universe that I can officially walk out of The Blues.  My journey through grief has delivered me to rock bottom.

I’m broken but through Divine Mercy I’m healing from the inside out.  Being at rock bottom gives clarity that only comes from climbing up the rock face side of salvation mountain.  So, I’m teaching myself and being my own best student as I experience my own transformative healing through marks of resistance made with needle and thread. Marks of Resistance Online is about participating in a creative hands activity in a season connected to long-standing traditional indigenous practices from the days of Algonquin Moon Lodges.  These traditional indigenous ways of knowing are lifted up by the prayers, joys and heartaches of our ancestors.

Wampum Wednesday: Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Step #3: Anointing Your Hands With Creativity Through Land Connections

Wampum Wednesday is all about creativity through indigenous textiles.  Who we are is just as important as what we create, so we will practice the rituals of smudging, offering tobacco and dancing as forms of giving thanks.   Hand-made is an indigenous way of connecting with our cultural identity that is coded in our DNA. No force in the universe can beat it out of us. It’s who we are!  It’s how and why we survived all the horrors committed against us! It’s our spiritual connection to the land of our ancestors that gives us power and authority.

Here is where I say I only know my truth.  The place of my strongest connection through land is the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Jones Hill at Currituck to Chicamacomico.  The energy from the sand, surf and ocean enables me to let go of my pain and focus my energy on a spirit of kindness, forgiveness and joy. The ocean waves rolling over the sand on my feet floats my pain into the energy of the Atlantic.  I have a new spiritual connection to the ancestral homeland of the Blackfoot under the big sky on the high prairie of Alberta, Canada. As individuals you’ll need to discover the place of your ancestral power vortex. Once discovered you offer tobacco and prayers of gratitude to facilitate your own healing from the inside out.

Indigenous hand-made is a very jealous process and demands all of you with unconditional devotion to lifelong learning.  There are no short-cuts! No instant fame or glory! It’s work, work and more work exploring “What If?” possibilities! Learning indigenous ways of knowing isn’t an instant process.  You get out of it, what you put in. This class is taught according to Blackfoot Poo’miikapii concepts, and Algonquin North Carolina Tuscarora teachings on The Four Daughters and 13 Moons to facilitate collective unity, harmony and balance.

Tech Tuesday: Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Step #2: Understanding How An Online Class Works

Marks of Resistance: Indigenous Embroidery will be taught online using Google Classroom.  Don’t Panic!!!  This course seems like a lot if you’ve never done it, but it can be a shared learning experience and help you connect with an online community.  The other choice for presenting this information was a Facebook group, but because Middle School children need to access the content that choice wasn’t feasible.  Plus, Facebook isn’t our friend.

Online learning requires active participation on your part.  This course requires reading, writing, speaking and making things with your hands.  Think of this as a bonding experience and opportunity to make new friends. No one has all the answers and everyone has something to share.  We are all learners together!

The computer hardware that I’m using consists of an Apple iPad with a bluetooth keyboard and a stylus pencil.  Other hardware includes a Shure MV88 digital stereo microphone, an iPad tripod mount adapter and a tripod. In addition to Google Classroom, I’m using Google Drive to organize documents into folders, creating text documents in Google Docs and slide presentations in Google Slides.  The registration form was created using Google Forms and the data collected from the form is stored in Google Sheets.

To access the class materials you will be an email address.  You can use any email but if you want to access and collaborate on the Google platform, you will need a Gmail account. I will create instructional graphics, videos and podcasts through the course to help you.  Everything associated with the course will be linked to Google Classroom. To participate in the class you will need a class code that will be emailed to you with instructions. To design, create and organize class materials, I’ll be using the iPad apps listed below.  When this course content is delivered to school children it will include learning the technology side. However, in the hands-on online version, we’ll only concentrate on learning indigenous embroidery.

iPads Apps

Apple Notes — iCloud | Note taking app provided on iPadOS that can be synced between devices on iCloud.  Can use with short text notes, photos, videos, contacts and calendar.

iMovie — video editing software app on iOS devices.

  • Apple Office — iWork on iPadOS
  • Pages: a word processor app.
  • Numbers:  a spreadsheet app.
  • Keynote:  a slide presentation app.

Google 4 Education Apps — Need a Gmail Account to Access

Classroom:  a streamlined, easy-to-use tool for managing coursework, distributing assignments, encouraging collaboration and fostering better educational communications.
>>>Drive:  a file storage service that allows users to sync files across devices and share files.  Offers 15 gigs of free storage.
>>>Docs:  an online word processor that lets you create and format documents and work with other people.
>>>Slides:  a presentation program that allows users to create and edit slides online while collaborating with others in real-time.
>>>Sheets:  a spreadsheet program that is compatible with Microsoft Excel file formats.

My Favorite iPad Instructional Technology Apps

  • Noteability:  Subscription Fee $8.99 | Note taking and sketching app that combines handwriting, photos and typing in a single note.  Can also add and annotate PDFs.
  • Canva:  A drop-and-drag graphic design tool that can be used for both web and print media.  It provides access to photos, vector images, graphics and fonts. Some elements are free but Canva Pro has a subscription of $12.95/month/user.  An annual subscription rate is also available.

Cyber Monday: Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Indigenous Online Learning 101: Fast Track
Kainai Studies 120: Blackfoot Ways of Knowing
Red Crow Community College
Red Crow Elder: Georgette Fox
Red Crow Instructor: Jeannie Smith-Davis

Volunteer Indigenous Teaching Artist: Carola Jones

Step #1:  Understanding The Seed2Runway Project: Marks of Resistance Online. This project is about participating in “The 100 Year Plan” of educating children.  The school is Tatsikiisaapo”p Middle School on the Kainai Reserve in Alberta, Canada.  The classroom art teacher is Olivia Rose Tailfeathers, and the students are the indigo dye workshop participants.  Blackfoot Textiles are continuing to transmit cultural history and traditions, and the goal of Marks of Resistance online is to transfer knowledge to empower children.

  • As homework, we will study the following contemporary Blackfoot Fiber Art Designers:
  • Heather Crowshoe Couture by Heather Crowshoe, Piikani Nation
  • The Chief’s Daughter by Karli Crowshoe, Piikani Nation
  • Maatsowakii Creations by Tobi Davis, Kainaiwa & Piikani Nations
  • Northern Plains Design by Carol Mason, Kainai Nation

Marks of Resistance Online is sponsored by DJ’s Fibershed, a non-profit, specializing in growing indigo, madder and marigolds in an urban garden as natural color for dyeing NC Toisnot Tuscarora medicine cloth. It’s in honor of Doris “DJ” Jones who dying prayers manifested sharing this knowledge into reality.

Setting Up A Video Teaching Space

Marks Of Resistance: Indigenous Embroidery will go live online December 21st. Winter Solstice begins a new cycle in indigenous time keeping of the four seasons and 13 moons as beginning and end points in a year. So, I’m tasked with creating a space to make instructional videos.

I’ve turned my Momma’s bedroom into a sewing room. She fell on the floor in this room and broke her hip which resulted in her death a few days later. It’s also in this bedroom that she isolated herself and her broken heart while becoming a working alcoholic. It wasn’t until after my Momma’s death and I cleaned out all the dresser drawers that I realized just how broken hearted she was. My only regret in life is not understanding her pain while she was alive. She was such a remarkable person to create beauty from pain as she did. She could design and sew anything, out of any fabric using both hand and machine stitching.

Her dying prayers were for me to share our stories of creating color from plants, flowers, nuts and insects plus stitching and embellishments with the world.

A stand up work table.

A window with southern facing natural light.

Ironing board.

My Miracle Manifestation

Madder Roots

My miracle, after seeking illumination is finding my authentic self. I’m connecting my art concepts of place and memory through Otahpiaaki. Otahpiaaki is a Blackfoot teaching where the sole and vamp of a moccasin come together.  I realize that my life is an indigenous first contact sole from the swamps of Toisnot and Mattamuskeet. I’m the worn sole of my ancestors who walked on the black earth of stolen people on stolen land that gave birth to The Blues.  But by grace and Divine Mercy the worn sole is now attached to a brand new vamp.

Like turning on a light the design for my part of the Seed 2 Runway Project is born. My project’s active status is shared with Mount Royal University through Spirit and Patti, and Red Crow Community College through Jeannie & Georgette.

Seed 2 Runway consists of four modules in accordance with the teachings of walking out “The Four Daughters” during each of their seasons.  Knowledge of the “Four Daughters” was transferred to me by Pura Fe, my BFF Carolyn and her daughter Chana while we made regalia for Machapunga Pow Wows.

  • Module 01 Posh Begins with Winter Solstice and consists of stitching and binding.  Stitching Marks of Resistance >> Creating our own personal visual stories and stitching spiritual and cultural clothing to connect us with our ancestors. | Binding Up Sorrows >> Making bundles to dye while binding up the brokenness we’ve experienced in the past year.  Bundle binding helps us to let go of stinking thinking that clogs our perception of our divine sacred nature by freeing us from colonizer limitations of scarcity and lack.
  • Module 02 Ahskareen Begins with Spring Equinox and is all about Growing Color >> Connecting with the land beneath our feet by preparing the soil, planting seeds and nurturing plants.  Growing color means getting our hands in the dirt and committing ourselves to the process of gardening.  We being the natural dye process with what was collected and harvested in last years daughters of Sepoy and Maraskarin.
  • Module 03 Sepoy Begins with the Summer Solstice and consists with  Creating Medicine Cloth From Plants, Flowers, Fruits & Vegetables.  Creating natural color from the bounty of what’s around us.  We continue the process of creating medicine cloth with in season berries and flowers.
  • Module 04 Maraskarin Begins with the Fall Equinox and is about harvesting color by harvesting ourselves.  We dry dyestuffs to dye with in Ahskareen, and begin collecting fabric to stitch and use for dye bundles during Posh.  We pick up black walnuts and process for dyeing during this season.  We exhaust all dyestuffs by making soap, and preparing to bury all the binding materials from our bundles on the day of the Winter Solstice.  The binding materials are strings connecting us to our ancestors.

And we begin again transformed by the process and lessons of the past 13 Moons ….

Day 07 / Walking In My Miracle

This journal entry is hand written and entered via my phone because my laptop is dead. I’ve never had an Apple hardware problem before. But, yes, MAC products D-I-E!

I take my broken laptop to mean I should get back to real handmade journaling. Consequently, Module 01 by Beaver Moon on Tuesday, November 12 is to begin a notebook journal. Minimal supplies needed and include the following:

  • Bound notebook of some kind which will become your digital Think Pad Mood Board.
    Box of crayons & box of markers.
    Matte medium
    1/2 Inch bristle brush
    Box of waxed paper

Gather your supplies and follow me live Monday through Wednesday, November 11 to 13.

  • Why Is Voting Important? | Day 05

    As I was leaving the voting room at Reid Street Center, Drew C. Wilson, a reporter for the Wilson Times asked me to explain why voting is important.  I don’t think he expected my comments, so he recorded my answer in my own words. Why is voting important to me? One of my ancestors, Les Haskins was killed by the ku klux klan during Jim Crow.  At that time to vote you had to pass a literacy test, which he did because he was one of the early graduates of what is now Shaw University. After he voted he was drowned in water that was about waist deep.  His bloated beaten and bruised body was found a few days later. No one was ever charged or held accountable for his death, but everyone knew who killed him.

    So, why do I vote?  To honor Les Haskins, and all the other people who have died so that I, as a woman of color, can have the right to vote.  Voting is my honor badge of freedom. As a mixed blood Toisnot Tuscarora with West African ancestry, people have suffered, being beaten, raped, lynched and killed in unspeakable ways for the right to vote on this land.  Even when I turned of age, and Momma, Mama and Mat went with me to register to vote for the first time, I had to read a passage from the constitution and explain its meaning.

    However, freedom comes with a cost! My payment is voting. Even when there is one candidate on the ballot, like today, I’m going to take the time to vote.  People whose ancestors once lived free, value freedom. Thanks to my family and the stories that we pass down from one generation to the next, I vote to declare with a loud voice “Still Here!” A remnant of stolen people on stolen land has survived and is “Still Here!”

    Got A Freedom Song In My Spirit

    Day02 | Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed On Freedom

    The isolation of living in my Momma’s house with the memories of four generations of women whose blood flows in my veins has broken me into dried out shards of clay.  I feel like a greenware clay vessel that’s been repeatedly thrown to the ground to see how many times the pieces will break. Some people suffer from depression during the winter but not me.  The relentless high wattage heat of summer pushes me to a white heat funk that takes my breath away. But I’m realizing that my suffering has a purpose. My feelings of displacement and fears of being alone make me a face of depression.

    Everyday, this past summer was a struggle, in part because I had traveled to the high plains of the Blackfoot Kainai Reserve in Alberta, Canada.  The vastness of the big sky reached deep into the core of my being by showing me what freedom looks like. A land full of possibilities! It’s no wonder that the claustrophobic dense green of Eastern North Carolina closed in on me.  And all the stuff inside my Momma’s house makes me feel closed-in and anxious, like it’s no escape. The summer of 2019 was the most severe depression in my life. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong plus more and more. I had many days when I felt that I would have to die to feel better.

    But now that fall is here and I’m days from Otahpiaaki, I can understand the lessons from my suffering. It is to break me to the point where I can be a blessing to others and a positive influence to the creative energies of the Otahpiaaki Gathering.  As my grandmother would say, “Baby Girl you have to wade in troubled waters to get to the other side. Gators and water moccasins may be swimming after you in dark murky water, but you’ve got to get yourself to the dirt on the other side. And remember, don’t get dead!”

    So, as I sojourn to this Indigenous Peoples Life Event, I expect abundant blessings and abundant miracles for everyone participating.  I know that I’m not the only one participating who has struggled. Trickster has set every mean-spirited, hurtful, vengeful trap to throw me and many others off our game. But, I didn’t give up, but for Jesus!  My faith sustains me! My daily prayer is for persevering steadfast faith and unshakable hope! A new adventure awaits!