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Edward Willie: Reviving Women’s Regalia

The Museum of the American Indian (MAI) is very pleased to announce a new collaboration with artist Edward Willie to construct traditional female Regalia, which will match the current male Regalia already displayed in our museum. The project will take place over the coming year and be unveiled sometime next summer. It is supported by a generous grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  

The Lead Artist, Willie, whose Northern California tribal ancestry includes Pomo, Walaiki, Paiute, and Wintu will construct the regalia and exhibit these nearly lost forms of Native California traditional dance regalia with an emphasis on the regalia of Women. This project will be modeled after and expand upon a highly successful collaboration between Willie and MAI which focused on the exhibition and teachings of traditional men’s regalia.

This collaboration to research, curate the exhibit, and provide the community with workshops and lectures suited for both adults and youth will create the opportunity for layers of learning. Workshops will be conducted with the museum providing the logistical and professional support while the master craftspeople provide the content. The MAI will support this project using its established networks for outreach and education.

Willie, a California traditional regalia maker, specializes in the regalia of the Pomo tribes, the original inhabitants of what is now Sonoma County. Pomo regalia is similar to that of the Coast Miwok, the original inhabitants of what is now Marin County where the MAI is located. Willie constructs regalia using traditional processes wholly from locally cultivated and harvested materials, native plants, minerals and animals. The old ways of constructing regalia are extraordinarily time-consuming and can take months to years to create from beginning to end. This exacting process and style garner much praise from experts for their fineness, ingeniousness and quality.

The process will be video-taped and shared with the community.


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