A jingle dress is featured in an artwork by Barry Ace in the current Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. As I’ve been touring groups through the exhibit I have had quite a number of indigenous young women tell me they own a jingle dress. One of them said she and her mother were just in the process of making hers. I asked her where they got the jingles that adorn the dresses. She said shops in Winnipeg sold them. The jingles are metal cones that make a distinctive sound as the dancer moves. A typical jingle dress can have 300-400 of them.
I was keenly interested in a CBC news story last week that featured a 17 year old high school student from the Swan Lake First Nation in southern Manitoba named Émilie McKinney. Émilie is an accomplished hoop and jingle dancer who has toured North America. While making a jingle dress for herself she found out the jingles sold in Winnipeg were very expensive and were manufactured in Taiwan. Émilie thought the jingles should be more reasonably priced and should be made by indigenous people right here in Canada. So she decided to open a business that did just that. She hand rolls the jingles and stamps them with an emblem she designed herself that features a teepee, a feather, a medicine wheel and an open door. Émilie’s jingles are already being sold in five different stores and online. You can read more about her story here.