Though Scott Shoemaker practices a variety of Miami (Myaamia) arts, he used this apprenticeship as an opportunity to teach his young daughter Hazel ribbonwork-embroidery techniques. Scott taught himself to create these complicated textiles by studying museum pieces and old photographs. The removal of Miami people from Indiana in 1846 and the land loss of those Miami who remained disrupted the production and passing down of many community traditions. Scott estimates that no Miami created ribbonwork textiles in Indiana for ninety years before he revived the tradition.
The process of ribbonwork involves cutting, folding, stitching and layering colorful strips of ribbon. Historical pieces used silk and matching thread, while Scott works with rayon taffeta ribbon and clear nylon thread. As language preservation is of great concern to Scott, the pair have been using Myaamia vocabulary to discuss the process of ribbonwork and the connections between this art form and larger systems of belief. “It encapsulates cosmology. So much of our stories and our language are about how to be a good human being,” Scott says. “Making this is about continuing those forms that our ancestors made but then also reminding us about what it means to be a Miami person.”