A dancer's regalia
may also be called their outfit. These beautifully handcrafted outfits are not costumes and is Never Referred To As a Costume!
A lot of
time, energy, thought and expense goes into the making of each outfit. Often pieces of the regalia are family
heirlooms. Dance Regalia is created by the dancer or by a respected family member or friend.
The feathers in
particular are sacred and highly valued and cared for. Sometimes years have gone into the final
completion of a dancer's regalia.
Siksika dance regalia worn by today's dancers reflect a combination of different traditions. While some dancers may have
very traditional dance regalia, many reflect the modern world's use of sequins, synthetic fabrics and
dyes, yarn and other less than traditional materials. However, whether the dance clothing is made of
traditional or modern materials, the use of traditional decorative designs and symbols.
When dancing at a powwow, an eagle feather may fall off a dancer's outfit. As soon as it
is known a feather has fallen, all dancing stops, the arbor is cleared, and a special traditional ceremony
is performed right then. The feather is treated like a fallen warrior whose spirit must be cared for
The ceremony is performed by four veterans who have earned the right to
touch the feather--veterans who have earned honors in battle, The four veteran traditional dancers
perform the picking up ceremony and a veteran who has been wounded in combat is selected as the "Brave
Man" to pick up the feather with another eagle feather.
He then recounts a war deed or special military
story of his service and then returns the feather to its owner.
A gift is given by the owner of the
feather to the veteran and the drum of honor for the service they have performed.
* Reference material by Becky Olvera Schultz