Kobe Goforth’s jingle dress and beadwork, 2000s
This child’s jingle dress was made for Kobe Goforth by her mother. She wore it at her first powwow in 1999 in Mission, British Columbia. Over that summer she danced in many pow-wows, but by fall had outgrown the dress.
A Mother’s Love
This dress was hand-sewn by Kobe’s mother in just three days. The beadwork took months to complete. Kobe’s mother Robyn learned beading from her grandmother and has passed the skill along to her children.
Robyn started her beadwork at 14 years old, beading floral patterns, and later expanded into animal designs such as horses and eagles. This set features hummingbird and butterfly images.
The exact origin of the powwow is unclear, but it appears to date to at least the 19th century. Since then, powwows have been adopted by Indigenous communities across North America. They are celebrations of Indigenous culture, food, dance and art.
In 1876, the Indian Act prohibited wearing traditional clothing and practicing cultural dances and ceremonies. There was strong Indigenous resistance to this prohibition, which led to the loosening of some restrictions in 1911. However, it was not until 1951 that the Indian Act was amended to allow free practice of spiritual and cultural ceremonies.
Dancing for the Future
Today, powwows take many forms: large or small, competitive or traditional, open to all or restricted to members of specific Nations. No matter what form they take, powwows are important events for asserting and sharing Indigenous rights and culture and passing on traditions to the next generations.