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Lassen College

Tatiana's Story

​The Jingle Dress

The dress was created by the Ojibwe Tribe from a vision of the medicine man of a First Nation's village.  His daughter became gravely ill, and after asking for help from the Creator, his spirit guide explained how to make the dress.  The women gathered the next day and made rows of 360 cones that were sewn onto a single dress.  The young girl was put into the dress and was instructed to move her feet.  She couldn't at first but with each jingle, she became stronger and performed the first healing dance.

As a Native American, I am an advocate for indigenous youth, and share this story for it is important to my culture and to let you know it was once illegal to be Native American.  The language, dances and ceremonies were banned by invaders, and Native Americans did not have the voting rights until 1957 on their own land.  My grandmother, at age six, was ripped from her Dad's arms and with papers waved in his face was told if he didn't obey he would be thrown into jail.  My Grandmother suffered abuse and neglect and was taught to hate her culture and her brown skin.  She overcame these traumas and knew in order to survive for generations to come, she would have to get her children and grandchildren to continue in school.

She taught us the importance of healing ourselves, and to not fear our wounds.  To face fear straight in the eye and with our traditions, we will heal ourselves.  That is what the Jingle Dress represents.  Healing of one's self and others.  Women are often asked to dance for families where someone is sick, or the family is needing prayers from their spirit guides.  These stories are why it is so important to Native American's to listen to our ancestors and spirit guides.  It is what has kept us going in times of genocide, sickness, and declining times on our homelands.