At today’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, meaningful fashion choices abounded. Both Harris and first lady Jill Biden wore American designers; Harris also championed designers of color in a Christopher John Rogers design and pearls by Wilfredo Rosado. In the same spirit, President Biden’s nominee for interior secretary, Deb Haaland, also brought her own fashion flair to the event. Haaland, who is Indigenous from the Laguna Pueblo tribe and the first Native American to serve in a cabinet, wore a traditional ribbon skirt that represented her Native culture.
Haaland’s yellow, below-the-knee ribbon skirt featured an array of horizontal ribbons in green, red, and neutral hues. It’s a sacred garment adorned with colorful ribbons (the colors usually have personal significance to the wearer) and is often worn for special occasions, or by powwow dancers such as traditional dancers or jingle dress dancers. Contemporary Indigenous designers such as Jamie Okuma, Lauren Good Day, and more have all reinvented the ribbon skirt in new, modern days too.
Haaland is no stranger to using style to reflect her Indigenous roots. In a profile for Vogue last year, the then congresswoman wore a “Vote” necklace that was Indigenous-made by artists in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (“I was inspired by Michelle Obama’s necklace that she wore to the convention. I said, ‘I need a Native one,’” Haaland said of the piece.) They serve as an effective display of cultural pride, and today’s skirt nailed what Inauguration Day style was all about: wearing clothes that not only look great, but have immense purpose.