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Poncho Jacket purchased for Royal Alberta Museum’s Indigenous Studies collection

Photo of Poncho Jacket by Heather Crowshoe Couture displayed on mannequin

We are delighted to give you a first look at a poncho jacket created by Heather Crowshoe of Heather Crowshoe Couture. The poncho will take its place in a newly updated exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM). The jacket is joining a group of items the museum has recently acquired for its In Their Footsteps exhibit. The exhibit has been re-developed by Emma Knight, RAM’s assistant curator of Indigenous Studies and highlights the work of Indigenous clothing and jewelry designers. The poncho jacket is one of two items recently purchased and donated by the Friends of Royal Alberta Museum (FRAMS) to the museum’s Indigenous Studies collection.

The poncho jacket is made from a Pendleton blanket, is reversible and has lined pockets. The blanket design is called Way of Life and honours the Pte Oyate – the Buffalo nation – and the sacred connection between the Lakota people and the buffalo.

Read the story behind FRAMS’ other recently gifted item – a pair of beadwork earrings made by Jaymie Campbell of White Otter Design Co here.

About the Artist: Heather Crowshoe

Heather Crowshoe is a seamstress and designer from Piikani Nation in southern Alberta. She is a direct descendant of Brings-Down-The-Sun and Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. She is a student of École Holt Couture – School of Couture Fashion Sewing and Design. Heather was a featured designer at Otahpiaaki Fashion Week in 2018 and 2019 alongside her daughter Karli, and her line The Chief’s Daughter.

My work is about applying traditional clothing concepts to modern life. For example, the ceremony robes were hides, which then became blankets, then colonization severely interrupted the evolution. I often wonder how this item of clothing would have evolved and what it would look like today. Robes or shawls represent protection from the elements physically and spiritually. They protect us and become part of our identity as we accomplish things in our life. The community comes to acknowledge and recognize a particular robe of a person as they go through life’s accomplishments. When we are sick sometimes we might use our robe to help heal and recover quicker. In general clothing colour, style, and design can also represent to other people and communities one’s social status, identity, and even family/or clan.

This is why I focused a lot on the Pendleton Jacket, car coat, and poncho. As a ceremonialist and couturier, I have an opportunity to explore this creative space because of the access to specialized knowledge through ceremony rites and attending North America’s only couture sewing school (Ecole Holt Couture).

Heather Crowshoe

Read more about Heather Crowshoe’s daughter Karli and her line – The Chief’s Daughter – Creations for the Generations on the RAM blog.

Follow Heather and Heather Crowshoe Couture on Instagram @hcc_yyc.