Shelby Hobia and son
Emilio Garcia pose in regalia made by Lakota Pochedley.
Crafting one-of-a-kind, thoughtful pieces of regalia provides Citizen
Potawatomi Nation member Lakota Pochedley encouragement and motivation.
Although the Slavin descendant maintains a busy schedule as the
tribal historic preservation officer for Match-e-be-nash-she-wish
Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe), she finds creating,
especially for loved ones, offers a sense of balance.
"There's nothing like it when you see the whole puzzle come
together because it took so much time, and so much of what I create
is just for that one person. It's truly amazing," Pochedley said.
She grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, but her studies and career
have allowed her to live all over the United States, including Texas,
Oklahoma and Michigan. Throughout her experiences, she has taken
the opportunity to learn traditional skills from those around her.
"Growing up, I was lucky because I was taken to powwows, and I
did always want to participate and dance. So, that was a huge catalyst
for me wanting to learn how to make these things because I wanted
to be out there dancing. I felt that desire and wanted to carry
on those teachings in that way," she said.
Although she has a variety of talents like moccasin making and
beading, Pochedley enjoys crafting ribbon work and appliqué
pieces the most. She uses modern and time-honored methods to make
sachkin (traditional women's blouses), ribbon shirts and
skirts. Respecting each image, background and message are important
to Pochedley, and that reverence dictates which approach she employs.
"If I'm using old family designs or those meant to honor the old
ways, maybe using old traditional colors, I will typically use or
incorporate handstitched ribbon work techniques. Then if it's more
contemporary, I'll just use my machine," she said.
Pochedley began sewing in her youth, and she appreciates the opportunity
to use the skills passed down to her by her mother and grandmothers.
"I would say if not all, most of my grandmas were seamstresses
of some sort, whether they were professional seamstresses or just
sewing to meet the needs of the family.
That's part of where
some of my interest came from," she said.
When Pochedley moved to Oklahoma, many individuals shared different
methods and styles of regalia making with her, including Ardena
O'Neal, Gayla Mosteller, Leslie Deer and Esther Lowden. After moving
to Michigan, Pochedley and her partner, fellow CPN member and Curley
descendant Bill Hobia III, began attending local Potawatomi language
and culture events, where she met Madalene Big Bear, Mon-ee Zapata
and many other Bodwewadmi/Nishnabé artists.
"Over the last year or so, I have really felt I have come into
my own as an artist and seamstress. I credit my mom, mother-in-law,
and other family members and friends encouraging me and folks like
Madalene and Peggy Kinder (for) sitting down with me to discuss
traditional designs and techniques, in particular, hand-stitched
appliqué. Those conversations and encouragement really helped
build up my confidence, but I'm also thankful they were willing
to take the time to make sure I was comfortable with the different
techniques and the ways in which we traditionally designed and constructed
our regalia," Pochedley said.
Finessing takes time and dedication, and within the past few years,
she has begun crafting her own style and approach.
Pochedley recently made ribbon shirts for her partner, Bill Hobia
III, and her brother, Elan Pochedley. Through these projects, she
found a renewed sense of pride in bringing back some traditional
styles, like pleated men's ribbon shirts and hand-stitched appliqué.
"I like to experiment with different things, and I like to look
at a lot of old pieces," she said. "I'll talk to people about those,
like old photos or old pieces that you can find in digital collections,
and kind of talk through some of those techniques that were used.
I always like to keep in mind how we can incorporate those styles
and techniques into our current regalia."
When beginning the process, Pochedley speaks with the individual
who will receive it. Next, she completes initial research, like
reviewing family photos, before creating a sketch and finalizing
colors and fabric. She employs mindfulness during every step.
"I look at old designs, but I talk with folks about which designs
are still recognized as family or clan designs and which designs
have become more available for all Potawatomi people to use," she
Pochedley often allows the imagery to come to her organically,
letting inspiration flow unhindered. It can take a single night
or months to finish one design. She said with regalia meant for
traditional or ceremonial purposes, it is particularly important
that others can recognize the pieces are Potawatomi by using traditional
elements that set Nishnabé regalia apart.
"There are definitely moments where I feel much more comfortable
When I am at those points, I act on it, and
I know it's time to make some things because I don't always know
how long it will last or when inspiration will strike again," Pochedley
Often, her partner will assist and provide his advice when deciding
"I always joke that it's a team effort," she said and laughed.
Although Pochedley appreciates every part of developing regalia,
she said nothing compares to seeing someone wear her creations,
especially her nephew, Emilio Garcia.
"To see him go out there (dancing) he just naturally knew
what he needed to do. He'd make his way out there, then come running
back to us. And I'd have to say that moment itself kind of sums
up all the times that I see folks wearing the things I've made,"
Learn more about her work and potential commission opportunities,
which Pochedley makes on a perproject basis, by reaching out via
email at email@example.com.