Photo courtesy of the KQ Designs Custom Beadwork
The regalia for Women’s Northern Traditional, the oldest style of women’s dance, is updated with modern patterns and bead colors.

4 Ways Pow Wow Regalia Has Changed Throughout the Years

Tish Leizens

3. Let it shine

Traditional elements of bead and floral designs continue to be done by master beading makers and regalias are still passed on to the new generation, but Marsha MacDowell, professor and museum curator at the Michigan State University, said she has seen new materials and different techniques used in embellishing the clothing.

Fancy Dance Regalia drawing by Kathryn Darnell, in the book Contemporary Great Lakes Pow Wow Regalia, co-edited by Marsha MacDowell, 1997. (Photo courtesy of MacDowell) MacDowell, who co-edited a book on Contemporary Great Lakes Pow Wow Regalia: Nda Maamawigaami (Together We Dance), 1997, cited painting on the fabric and the use of materials to make the regalia shine or show off a metallic effect.

About 15 to 20 years ago, rhinestones started showing up in beadwork design, said Knapp. Over the past couple of years, he said he is seeing more and more neon beads being used. He expects this trend to continue.

“Pow wow clothes are real art work. They are very beautiful,” he said.

World champion fancy dancer Larry Yazzie said he has seen neon colors in all categories, outside of traditional dances, as well as the use of neon duct tape and construction flagging material.

“The construction materials are becoming more synthetic or man-made materials rather than tradition items. For example: roach (fiber optic lines vs. porcupine hairs) and male leggings (shredded or untangled nylon rope in place of angora hide).”

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