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Dance and Ceremony Costume Workshops Teach Authentic Dress

WoodworkingEvery afternoon at Indian Summer, Arrowmen gather at the Native American craft areas for a series of hands-on workshops. Just about every type of craft imaginable is represented in some way. Each classroom is led by an expert who instructs all who wish to learn.

In the woodworking area, Arrowmen make mirror boards and dance sticks from start to finish. Starting with a raw block of wood, participants learn how to cut, shape, and sand the wood to form their handheld accessories. Then they stain the wood and add decorative carvings or brass nails.

Loom beadingDown the hall in the beadwork room, participants learn how to use a small loom and to create a rosette stitch. This is harder than it appears due to the small size of the beads. Tim Williams, contingent adviser for Haudenosaunee Lodge, said "The beadwork isn't easy for old people without their glasses, but it sure is fun!"

Arrowmen can also learn how to use quills so they can enhance their own costumes when the get home. The quills are very delicate and hard to use. As Mitchell Wallace put it, "The [display] board makes it look easy, but it's really hard."

FeatherworkJimmy Carlson of O-Shot-Caw lodge was busy chevron finger-weaving a belt sash for his grass-dancing costume. He says, "When you first start, it calls for a lot of patience. Once you get the hang of it, it flows really easily." His friend Michael Hoff is learning the basic diagonal finger-weave stitch so he can make sashes and turbans for his costume.

Materials were also available for Arrowmen to create a Seneca or Mohawk-style gustaweh (a type of headdress). These gustaweh's use a covered frame and turkey feathers for an authentic look.

Arrowmen could also learn how to make moccasins, silver slides and armbands, bone chokers, and cloth and ribbon vests. With experts from across the country instructing, participants are making use of every available resource to improve their ceremonial costumes and dance outfits.

Revised 08/04/2003.

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