OKEMAH, Okla. – Mvskoke Nation Youth Services put on a ribbon skirt making class for Native youth ages 16 to 24 at the Okemah Indian Community Center March 23 and 30. Youth Services started a program, Connect the Disconnect, to bring the Mvskoke culture and language to youth in the communities.
“We’re taking it to the communities so that people that don’t have the opportunities to learn at home can still have the opportunities to learn our culture,” said Mvskoke Nation Youth Services Director, Nancy Deere-Turney. “At the same time, we’re discussing relevant topics for youth that they also need to hear that maybe they’re not hearing in the home either.”
The topics that were discussed during this two-week class included consent and boundaries. Mvskoke Nation Youth Services Youth Prevention Specialist, Jamie Rolland gave a short presentation to the youth in attendance and asked questions to see what level of understanding they had on the topic. Rolland also taught the girls how to make ribbon skirts.
“I’m teaching the girls how to make a basic ribbon skirt because it’s important for them to be connected to their culture and to have some kind of identity,” Rolland said.
This was a two-part class, with the first day consisting of learning how to get the ribbon skirt started. The second day taught more about ribbon colors, width, and placement.
“A lot of it is just really preference on colors and that skirts mean something different to everybody,” Deere-Turney said. “So, the color may mean something different for you, it may tell a different story for you, but it goes back to personal preference, it tells your story.”
Rolland just started with Youth Services in February teaching healthy teen dating. This marked her first Connect the Disconnect event.
“I’ve been sewing since I was in 6th grade, my Home Ec[onomics] teacher Ms. Jones taught me,” said Rolland. “The only reason I really got into sewing again was because I have two small daughters and it’s expensive to pay somebody else to make three outfits every year for Green Corn, so I started sewing again.”
They try to make every class different and rotate what is being taught. Next month’s class will be on making moccasins. The program tries to hold the classes in different communities throughout the reservation to give as many youths as possible the opportunity to learn about the Mvskoke culture.
Call 918-549-2557 to request MCN Youth Services to put on a Connect the Disconnect event or for questions about what all is offered.