Ribbonwork Revitalization

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Ribbonwork Book Companion Videos

Myaamia Ribbonwork – Supplies

Myaamia Ribbonwork – Templates & Stitches

Myaamia Ribbonwork – Instructions for Project 1

Ribbonwork Workshops

There were workshops in 2015 & 2016 to teach concepts and techniques about ribbonwork.  The first was in Miami, Oklahoma and the second was held on July 18 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Workshop instruction was done by Scott Shoemaker and Karen Baldwin.  You can see some of Scott’s previous work here.

About the Project

The Myaamia Center has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to work on the revitalization of traditional ribbonwork practices.  This two-year grant has two phases.  In the first phase, examples of ribbonwork in museum and personal collections will be identified and documented.  Using these examples, a booklet examining the history of Miami ribbonwork and instructions for making your own will be produced. Videos will be produced alongside the booklet to result in a thorough set of instructions.  In the second phase, community workshops with master ribbonwork artist Scott Shoemaker will be held in Miami, Oklahoma and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ribbonwork is a craft that emerged in the late 1700s when Myaamia people traded with Americans for silk ribbon.  Using the silk, Miami women were able to create intricate geometric patterns.  Although the materials and  methods of making the patterns was new, elements of the patterns pre-dated ribbonwork and can be found on older painted hides, tattoos, quillwork, and weaving, among other examples. Myaamia people used the ribbonwork to adorn clothing for special occasions for both men and women, especially leggings, skirts and moccasins.

“Our goal is to revive the skill among tribal members and encourage the aesthetic side of the art to be used in a variety of traditional and contemporary forms today,” comments Daryl Baldwin. “You can see examples of these geometric ribbonwork patterns as part of the woodwork inlay patterns and display cases located in the Wiikiaami Room of the new Armstrong Student Center located at Miami University.  I’ve even seen ribbonwork used for cell phone covers today—a sign of cultural change that is essential to cultural survival.”

As center staff begin work on this important aspect of cultural revitalization, we want to be sure to include historical examples of ribbonwork from as many Miami families as possible.  Much of the Miami ribbonwork in U.S. museum collections has already been documented, but it’s possible some examples exist in private collections.  Even a small scrap of ribbonwork may yield useful information about patterns, colors and construction for this project.  We know it is more likely that some Miami families may have photographs of ancestors wearing regalia trimmed in ribbonwork.  This was especially common during the pageant era.  Adding copies of these images to our growing ribbonwork database will help to improve the project and our understanding of Myaamia ribbonwork aesthetic. If you have objects or images relating to ribbonwork, please contact Andrew Strack at strackaj@miamioh.edu. They could be very valuable to this project!

Does anyone remember their parents, grandparents or great grandparents talking about ribbonwork or diamond patterns?  We’d love to hear about that as well.  With your help, we can work to reawaken this part of our culture.

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