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Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project

NavajoStrong and The Jingle Dress Project share a commitment to health and healing. The goal of The Jingle Dress Project is to capture photographs that document the spiritual places our ancestors once walked, and to give hope to the world through art, dance and culture, so we can all heal together. 

The Beginning, A Project From Their Point Of View

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a dream. I was sitting in a grass field at Yellowstone National Park watching the bison graze on the horizon as the sunset. And then, in the distance, I heard the healing sound of jingles. One by one, beautiful jingle dress dancers appeared. It was as if they were dancing with the bison to the rhythm of a silent drum. It was beautiful and peaceful.

When I awoke I felt it in my heart, this was more than a dream. I couldn’t deny it. I wanted to because it seemed impossible to obtain, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the turmoils of the racial and political differences in the world. As I retold the dream to my family they could feel it too. We knew this had to happen. We started the project with little money and lots of faith and hope it would work. It had to.

“Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project” was born. Our goal is to take the healing power of the Ojibwe jingle dress to the land, to travel, to dance, and capture a series of images to document the spiritual places our ancestors once walked, and to unite and give hope to the world through art, dance and culture to help us heal. On the first photoshoot, Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni, and I learned how to work together. They weren’t models. I wasn’t a portrait photographer. It was awkward, frustrating, and new. But, from the moment they started to jingle dance on the land, it all changed. I felt, what I felt in my dream–beauty, and peace.

I cried. I could feel myself healing from the uncertainties of the world––time slowed down. As I listened to the jingles, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I was doing what I was supposed to do and no matter how difficult this project would be, it needed to be done.
Several months later, the project is bigger than I imagined. The support, the love, and the encouragement from all over the world is inspirational. It motivates Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni, and me through our trials and difficulties while we travel on our photoshoots. It has been beautiful, emotional, empowering and most importantly, healing.


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