When she took her oath of office, the first Native American cabinet secretary also took a stance for self-expression.
On Thursday, Deb Haaland made history when she began her job as Secretary of the Interior, becoming the first Native American to lead a cabinet-level agency. And she did so not in the recent uniform of many female politirati — the fruit bowl-colored trouser suit — but rather in traditional Indigenous dress.
Standing in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to Vice President Kamala Harris to take the oath of office, Ms. Haaland wore a dark jacket over a sky blue, rainbow-trimmed ribbon skirt embroidered with imagery of butterflies, stars and corn; moccasin boots; a turquoise and silver belt and necklace; and dragonfly earrings.
Against the flags and dark wood, the former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico stood out, her clothes telegraphing a statement of celebration and of self at a ceremonial moment that will be preserved for the record. It was symbolic in more ways than one … it’s a break from the prevailing wisdom regarding female dress in the corridors of power, which dictated safety in a dark suit — with maybe the occasional red jacket for pop. The point being to look like the (male) majority that ruled; to be a company woman and play the part of the institution. Not any more.
Agnes Woodward, a Plains Cree from the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada who owns ReeCreeations along with her husband, designed Haaland’s ribbon skirt. They are clear about the company’s mission: “Everything we design and create is meant to empower Indigenous Peoples and to amplify Indigenous voices. Take up space and walk unapologetically.” A story about the designer in Native News Online has a photo of Woodward holding up the skirt to clearly display the design.
Woodward explained the skirt’s significance in an Instagram post.
The ribbon skirt reminds us of the matriarchal power we carry as Indigenous women.
They carry stories of survival, resilience, adaption, and sacredness.
As survivors of genocide we wear our ribbon skirts to stay grounded in our teachings, to stay connected to the earth and our ancestors.
Wearing it in this day and age is an act of self empowerment and reclamation of who we are and that gives us the opportunity to proudly make bold statements in front of others who sometimes refuse to see us.
It allows us to be our authentic selves unapologetically.
Here’s Haaland’s statement.
Tweet of the Day
quote for the first day of spring 2021
“There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.” -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
Daily Kos still has three not-Night-Owls open threads available, plus this Community Spotlight open thread every Sat. at 7:30 p.m. PDT on the Front Page. On Sun. through Fri. at 7:30 p.m. PDT, Hunter publishes his News Roundup to the Front Page. Community groups daily publish Top Comments at 7 p.m, and Overnight News Digest at 9 p.m. Let’s meet in the comment threads and hone our badassery.
Eight Rescued Stories from 1 p.m. PDT Friday, Mar. 12 through 1 p.m. PDT Friday Mar. 19, 2021
Despite ample current events such as two notable confirmations—Haaland and “aggressive culture warrior from the radical left” Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, plus the horrific misogynistic and racist killings in Atlanta—we rescued zero current events stories this week. Instead, we spotlighted book reviews, a Myanmar reading list, pandemic backyard birding, Nixon’s second inauguration, a meeting with Queen Elizabeth, and a devoted grandmother’s ode to her grandson.
Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday at 7:30 p.m Pacific time. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
BehindTheLine revisits Richard Nixon’s second inauguration through text and photos in 1973 January 20: An inauguration photo diary. The U.S. in the early 1970s was a peak culture war led by people old enough to be drafted but too young to vote. “The Vietnam War protest movement was front and center. But other social issues were coming of age. In some ways the protests of that day were a culmination of seven or eight years of frustration with the war, on top of civil rights demonstrations, summer riots and assassinations.” BehindTheLine joined in 2019 and has written three stories, all rescued.
Ellid introduces her topic by describing a prayer rug scam she recently received “that had about as much in common with my actual religious life as Charlie the Tuna has to The Old Man and the Sea.” In Books So Bad They’re Good: Hoaxes, Part III—ignorance and superstition, she discusses The Faith Healers, by James Randi, a book “describing some of the worst, most egregious, and most knowingly cruel religious hoaxes of all.” A quilt historian who joined in 2007, Ellid has written 576 stories, with 174 rescued, two of them this week.
Even life-long birders found surprises in their yards when the pandemic kept them close to home. Through description and photos, Linneatus details some of her sightings in Dawn Chorus: My year of birding (not so) dangerously. “This was the year many of us re-discovered the joys of backyard birding (and it) has been an eye-opener for learning about the locals … birds and people … I got to know my neighbors better than I had in the previous 16 years. We bonded over birds, over knowing that our neighborhood provides (a) safe haven for a great variety of feathered friends.” In her 14 years at Daily Kos, “all-purpose enviro” Linneatus has written 279 stories with 12 rescued.
Public school teacher and librarian bookgirl writes about a March-Madness style book competition in Contemporary Fiction Views: The art of conversation. The 2021 Tournament of Books pits authors against each other to claim the prize of a virtual rooster. In the competition, readers participate in judging rounds and discuss their favorite writers. “What a delight that in this world, where people advocate for racist tropes and keeping children in poverty, that people also have the chance to show they care about ideas, characters, plot and how words bring a story to life.” Bookgirl joined in 2008 and has written 254 stories, with 97 rescued.
In A few books about Myanmar/Burma, Scribal explains their history with Burma, having spent 6 months in Yezin and Yangon in the early ’80s, while the author’s father was working in Yezin. After lamenting about the pain and suffering of the Rohingya people, Scribal offers reading suggestions for anyone wanting to learn more about Myanmar. “On Twitter this week, I read plea after plea from Myanmar: ‘The troops are killing us in the street and burning our homes, please help us.’ What can I do? I’m an information sharer by nature and by training so that’s what I can offer.” Scribal, a librarian, joined in 2020 and has written three stories, with two rescued.
Nigerian international lawyer Irene Fowler fondly recalls her 2003 experience in My memorable moments with Queen Elizabeth II. “I am a Director of Vivian Fowler Memorial College, a private secondary school for girls in Lagos, Nigeria … and in 2003, Priscilla Quoa, one of our students, won the Commonwealth essay competition. As it turned out, Nigeria was hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that year and Queen Elizabeth II was expected at the occasion.” Irene Fowler joined in 2020 and has written eight stories. This is their first rescue.
Philly526 asks readers What inspires you? and explains how her 16-year-old grandson became her inspiration. “Bo isn’t shy about expressing his views, nor does he hesitate to call me out when he thinks I’m wrong or if he holds an opposing view. This often makes for lively dinner conversation.” Philly526 joined in 2008 and has written 14 stories, with two rescued.
Ellid’s second rescue this week, Book Chat: The greatest Irishwoman, focuses on Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, an Irish Nationalist. The author, once married to an Irishman, recounts her affinity for the Irish. “I still appreciate good Irish music, food, and writing. Yeats, Synge, Binchy, Stoker, Wilde, Ethna Carbery and Brendan Behan and James Joyce and Seamus Heaney—these are writers any country would proudly claim, a heritage that many might envy … And then there was Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, who might justly be called The Mother of Them All … Widowhood may have honed her power of observation and given her the solitude to write, but it also brought an unexpected gift, one that would change the literary and political fate of her homeland: a passionate love for the folklore, language, and people of Ireland.”
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).