Who wore the colorful ribbon skirt at the State of the Union


The skirt is a traditional Native American garment.

Melissa Isaac sat behind Jill Biden at the State of the Union. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

If you’re a lover of fashion, bright colors or a native, you probably noticed a beautiful colorful skirt worn by someone sitting behind Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova and First Lady Jill Biden during the first state address. of President Joe Biden’s Union. .

While some might have assumed the skirt was Ukrainian due to the proximity of the Ukrainian ambassador, the skirt is actually a traditional Native American garment called a ribbon skirt.

The woman wearing the skirt is Melissa Isaac of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. She is the head of the Indigenous Education Initiative at the Michigan Department of Education and was a personal guest of Jill Biden.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Isaac is a former elementary school teacher who was instrumental in securing a $9 million Federal Grant for Indigenous Schools in Michigan to help them meet the mental health needs of their school communities.

She reportedly first met Jill Biden in October 2021.

According to The Lakota Timesribbons adorning Native American clothing date back 400 years.

“Silk ribbons, brought to North America by European traders, inspired a uniquely Native American new art form”, The Lakota Times wrote.

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Although ribbon skirts were made as early as the 1600s, The Lakota Times writing, they really began to gain popularity among native tribes on the North American continent in the early 19th century and peaked around the second half of the same century.

The tribes that traded furs with the French are best known for their ribbon work, The Lakota Times wrote. This includes tribes such as the Kickapoo, Mesquakie, Miami, Odawa, Ojibwa, Osage, Otoe-Missouria, Potawatomi, and Quapaw.

The Lakota Times wrote that at first the ribbons were sewn to the edges of the fabric and replaced the painted lines on clothing and hide blankets. But at the end of the 18th century, designs with ribbons became much more complex.

Ribbon skirts have seen a resurgence in popularity since the 1970s, coinciding with an increase in Indigenous activism and cultural advocacy, The Lakota Times wrote.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first-ever Indigenous person to hold the post, was also seen wearing a ribbon skirt at government functions, having worn one during her swearing-in ceremony.

Many natives — and fashion fans — on Twitter were thrilled to see the ribbon skirt on national television.


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