An Indigenous generation through clothes

A piece of clothing does not only represent fashion but also identity and culture that can be passed down to the next generation.

Laura Salo, a Métis, a mother, and a retail worker at the Indigenous store Old Tribes, shared different stories on her cultural roots. One of the significant parts of her story is the ribbon skirt.

"They're really beautiful to me," Salo said. "They're just so beautiful on Native women,"

Salo said that most ribbon skirts are worn in powwows and certain ceremonies. Some Indigenous women wear them every day, and others wear them on special occasions. Different patterns and colours of the skirt also have different meanings.

Growing up in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Salo described her childhood as a time when she didn't have very much knowledge of her cultural roots. She was also not fluent in Métis language or beliefs. "[Our] culture was repressed in the earlier years," she pointed out.

However, as Salo grows older and meets more people, she tends to learn more about her Métis roots. She discovered some important things from her mother, grandmother, and friends. One of the things she learned from a friend is how to make a ribbon skirt since they would always make skirts and jewelry together.

"I just started learning about all of these things," Salo said. "I like culture. I like my heritage. I wish I knew more about it growing up."

Working in Old Tribes for almost two years helped Salo learn more about the clothes of Indigenous Peoples, from learning and talking to the store’s owners and patrons.

"I'm going to support my heritage," she laughed.

Salo also started to learn about their language through her grandmother. She would ask for a few words and sentences, which were difficult to learn but worth it.

"I love to listen to my granny talk. I'd love to understand her fully," she added. As Salo gains more knowledge and experience about her culture and identity, she remembers with fondness the hunting stories that her grandfather used to tell.

"You're sitting there around a table full of elders, and they're having all these great conversations and telling all these good stories," she said.

"I'm hearing hunting stories from my grandfather. I love hearing those."

Salo's family had a trapline, and she also remembers how they traditionally cooked meat. She treasures these memories.

"They've been just slowly telling me little things here and there, and I try and keep them in my head.”

Salo said she would like to see people embrace their culture more. “It'd be nice to see the younger generation do that. I wish that more kids would grow up with their traditions. It's so amazing to see a little Native boy running around with a long braid."

For more information, visit the Old Tribes store website at https://www. oldtribes.com/.

Julia Archelene Magsombol, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer