ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many noticed a unique piece of clothing when New Mexico‘s Deb Haaland’s swearing-in as Secretary of the Interior, a Native skirt specially made just for the day. A day full of firsts, mid-March former Representative Deb Haaland became the first-ever Native American in Cabinet. What made the moment even more monumental was Haaland’s clothing choice.
“Deb had asked them to find somebody to make her a ribbon skirt,” said Agnes Woodward. A ribbon skirt is a traditional Native garment. Woodward in North Dakota has been making them for over 13 years.
“Margaret reached out to a few seamstresses, ribbon skirt makers to kinda like sketch a design and then Deb would choose,” said Woodward. Haaland picked Woodward’s design and everything went from there.
“I sketched up based on what she wanted, what she liked,” said Woodward. Each piece has a different meaning. The rainbow colors are meant to represent all people and the cornstalk is a symbol of Haaland’s tribe the Laguna Pueblo.
“It was always a way for Indigenous people to adorn themselves, express themselves through that form of art,” said Woodward. An important piece of her culture was showcased on a national stage.
“For the most part when a woman walks into the room wearing a ribbon skirt everyone is going to notice,” said Woodward. Seeing Haaland in the spotlight and wearing her design was something she never imagined possible.
“When you come from nations of people who have been silenced for many, many generations it’s amazing to see Deb Haaland sworn in in a ribbon skirt,” said Woodward which makes it more than just a piece of clothing.
“It’s been really just beautiful and such an honor ever since that day,” said Woodward. Woodward sells her skirts online which can be found on the ReeCreations website.