Through a collaboration with the Museum of the American Indian, Edward Willie will revive nearly forgotten California regalia traditions focusing primarily on certain lost techniques for the construction of finely crafted woman’s ceremonial accessories. The final works will be used in contemporary traditional dances by native people and then stored and exhibited at the museum as living artifacts.
The construction of the regalia, along with its exhibit and related educational programs will be managed with the help, support, and guidance of the museum and with artist collaborators and elders. The project is modeled upon a successful prior project between Willie and the museum, which focused on the creation, teaching, and exhibition of traditional Pomo men’s regalia. Creating several sets of women’s regalia completes a cycle of reviving a lost art and recognizes the importance of roles women play in traditional cultures. The project will be documented to assist in passing down the traditional knowledge.
Edward Willie, whose Northern California tribal ancestry includes Pomo, Walaeki, Paiute, and Wintu, specializes in the regalia of the Pomo tribes, the original inhabitants of what is now Sonoma County. Pomo regalia is similar to that of the Coast Miwok, the original inhabitants of what is now Marin County, where the museum is based. Willie uses traditional processes and works wholly from locally cultivated and harvested materials, native plants, minerals, and animals.
Based in Novato, California, the Museum of the American Indian’s mission is to provide the people of Northern California with programs and exhibits that deepen understanding and appreciation of Native American cultures. It engages diverse audiences in the exploration and preservation of the history, languages, art, and traditions of Native Americans through its exhibitions and educational programs. The regalia making and related events are expected to occur over the course of two years and will begin when permitted by public health orders.
Image title: “De-feathering Eagle Wing”