Fashion Show Tops Off Choctaw Dressmaking Class

Photo by Charles Clark/Choctaw Nation

Modeling their handmade historic clothing at the “Choctaw Dress Making Graduates Style Show” Wednesday, March 22 in Durant are, from left, Sharon Mullins, LaDona Dry, Georgia Yeager, Instructor Oneida Winship, Diana LaRoque, Deanna Creel, and Ann Kaniatobe.

March 28, 2017

DURANT – When Oneida Winship taught her first class on Choctaw Dressmaking a year ago, she did not know it would be so popular. Several classes have followed across southeastern Oklahoma.

“Each class has about eight to 10 sessions of about two hours each,” Winship said. “It depends on a number of things, like how fast they sew. Each one is a little different.”

She noted how one class even had a 13-year-old boy who made a Choctaw men’s shirt. “It took him a while,” she said. “He cut each diamond so precisely.” He also has a younger sister making her own dress and younger brother making a shirt.

After holding classes in Crowder, Talihina, Wilburton and Idabel, a “Choctaw Dress Making Graduates Style Show” was staged Wednesday, March 22 at the Choctaw Community Center in Durant.

Hosted by the Choctaw Cultural Services Department, where Winship works as the Cultural Archivist, it was held during the weekly gathering of the Durant seniors group. The turnout was standing room only in the newly christened Ted Dosh Luncheon Hall.

Graduates included Ann Baskin, Deanna Creel, LaDona Dry, Ann Kaniatobe, Diana LaRoque, Sharon Mullins, and Georgia Yeager. Most were in attendance and wore the dresses they had made. Aspects of the dresses, including materials, were explained from the podium by Winship. Each graduate was presented with a certificate and a pin noting their completion of the course.

“Nine enrolled originally and seven stayed with it and got their dress done,” Winship said, “To have that many finish says a lot about their commitment.”

Students furnish their own materials.

“The colors and all are usually kind of personal to each person,” Winship said.

The historic Choctaw dress is styled after French peasant dresses of the late 18th century. French traders were among the first Europeans the Choctaw had contact with. The diamond border represents the rattlesnake, long considered a symbol of power in the Eastern Woodlands.

Oneida usually works with a class of about 10. Her next Choctaw Dressmaking Class is full with 16 enrolled.

For future class information, contact Winship at [email protected] or 800-522-6170 Ext. 2722.