Can Metis people wear ribbon skirts or is it disrespectful?
Over the last few years, after events at Standing Rock, the Ribbon Skirt has been making the rounds on Turtle Island. Ribbon skirts are a symbol of resilience, sacredness and survival and is not bound to one specific tribe, but influences by the Plains Tribes.
Water protectors at Standing Rock were advised to wear a long skirt because the grounds are sacred and ceremonies were being conducted constantly. The water protectors and their supporters were in constant prayer and asking for sacred protection. Water protectors and their supporters came from all back grounds and culture from all over the world. Because people were coming from a variety of backgrounds, spiritual leaders at Standing Rock took the opportunity to educate water protectors and supporters about the significance of wearing ceremonial ribbon skirts.
Myra Laramee, shares her knowledge of the importance of ribbon skirts that I suggest people watch. She shares that historically skirts were made from animal hide and decorated with natural paint. After the introduction of trade goods from Europe, these skirts were made of cotton calico and ribbons. These new skirts continued the historical tradition of carrying the meanings and teachings of the original skin skirts.
She shares that the silhouette of the skirt itself comes from a sacred place, and it follows the outline of the Mikiiwaap (Cree), or Tipi (Dakota). The bottom of the skirts would touch the earth’s medicines, and as the women walked, “Mother Earth would always know who it was that was making their presence felt on her back” and the prayers were answered.
Ribbon skirts are about women being empowered and remembering our sacredness, Tal Tootoosis shares that “It’s teaching them [women] to be empowered and that they already are resilient. Women already have power. A woman is protection because she is a woman. And when you have that understanding you learn boundaries.” These skirts have become a universal symbol of resistance, land and water protection and a symbol of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). I believe that wearing a ribbon skirt, regardless of tribal affiliation, is an honor.