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Velma's Work
Velma's Sewing of Regalia

    Velma retired from Oklahoma for Indians Opportunity, O.I.O in 1986. At that time she began a new career at seventy-three and that was as a seamstress sewing Native American regalia for pow-wow dress. The articles of clothing she created were for men and women. Women's dress included the intricate ribbon work you see in this picture. Her designs usually go to the woodland style when she sews her own creation. If someone requests their own clan's design she draws and cuts the pattern to suit them.

Cherokee Dress

    In the last few years Velma has branched out from the Ponca to sew dresses for other tribes. This lovely dress cut from a cotton fabric is the one Cherokee women wear. Their ribbon work design runs around the tiered skirt and is on the bodice, too.

Ponca Ribbonwork

    Men's article of clothing she puts together are for the whole outfit if she is asked. There are: leggings, breechcloth, vest, shirts and scarves she makes for the men.

    Shawls have been her trademark. It would be hard to know how many women's shawls she has fringed and decorated with ribbon work. She makes these individually or with a dress. When the whole outfit is sewn to match,  the unity of the design and colors are striking, especially when worn in competition at the arena where the overhead night lighting shows the satin fabric up in such a beautiful way.

    Velma has taught her craft to many people and has driven as far as Tahlequah to teach a class there, this when she was around 86. She is presently putting a class together to be taught. Her shawls and designs are worn by Native Americans all over the U.S. from New York to California Florida, Montana, Dakotas and other states as well. Every tribe's members do covet her shawls.

    The shawl has a significance going back to as far as anyone can remember. It was an important, necessary part of the women's ensemble. It is used for gifting to people who attend funerals of their family members, as a give away object to show appreciation for good deeds and in a general way as an expression of friendship. Sometimes the shawl is given to a man as a symbol of respect. At this time the woman will tie it around his waist when he receives it. Velma's desire to hold to the traditions of her ancestors has , in fact, helped to keep her old ways alive.

    Often a garment will return to Velma that is years old for her to repair or alter the size. Sometimes it is  to add another part of a regalia to match the one that person already has. This will be an effort to record the works we have available.

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