MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

February 4, 2008

Cherokee tear dresses, a passion

PARK HILL — Traditional Cherokee tear dresses have many different colors and fabrics but with a basic style.

Tonia Weavel, education director for the Cherokee Heritage Center, has been making Cherokee dresses for more than 20 years.

“Everybody has their own ideas and family colors,” Weavel said. “We live in 2008 and the design should reflect who we are now.”

The style of the dress was developed in the 1950s when Virginia Stroud, a Cherokee woman who was adopted by a Kiowa family, won the Miss Indian America. Cherokee Chief William Wayne Keeler handpicked a committee to find something more suitable for Stroud to wear during her reign.

One of the members, Wynona Day, had in a trunk that came over The Trail of Tears, a dress that was passed down into her family. The dress is the what the Cherokees used as a master copy for all traditional tear dresses to come.

“I put in about 10 to 12 hours on a dress,” she said. “I have made probably 300 dresses.”

Weavel is the student of Cherokee Master Craftsman Wendell Cochran.

“He’s the man,” she said. “I was fortunate to get to do my internship with him. He has helped me mold to his style.”

Weavel said that most of the tear dresses are made of cotton or calico.

The 1950s style of the dress features a three-quarter-length sleeve that would have been easy to roll up for working in the fields or doing dishes. Buttons in the front were for easier accessibility for nursing mothers.

“The whole idea is very utilitarian — very simple,” Weavel said.

Weavel said she enjoys using bright colors and different patterns on fabric to make the tear dresses.

“I try to step out of the box,” she said.

Weavel said she makes mostly children’s tear dresses for the Little Miss Cherokee and the Junior Miss Cherokee competitions and she tries to do what the family wants.

Text Only
Features
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Poll

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks