For cadet George Hass ‘22, November represents more than just Thanksgiving. The month of November signifies a celebration of culture and a chance to honor his heritage. November is Native American Heritage month, and George is a descendant of the Creek and Nez Perce tribes.
Annual proclamations from Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have designated November as Native American Heritage Month. The month is an opportunity to pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of the Native Americans, according to nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.
The month-long tribute to Native American heritage and traditions began several years ago for George. George attended his first pow-wow approximately seven years ago when he was a freshman in high school. He was a casual observer but was immediately in awe of the regalia worn by fellow Native Americans. He was so impressed that he wanted to make his own regalia.
George learned how to do beadwork, basket weaving, appliqué, leather work and wrapping, in addition to sewing. He wanted to learn all the skills that are part of the Native American culture. “I spent many hours making the intricate parts of regalia. While it was a lot, it was worth it,” he said. “I was able to condense the Native American culture into a wearable medium.”
Most every element of the regalia was handmade by George. The handmade bustle (feathered piece) took 3 months to make. He made the loincloths as well with the front loincloth featuring a rabbit because George’s last name, Hass, means “hare” in German. The head roach is made of horse and deer hair. Other regalia elements include the chest plate and bells, as well as furs and tassels that are worn around wrists and ankles. He carries feather fans made out of owls’ wings.
George is no longer just a casual observer at pow-wows. With the regalia he made, he’s now a participant in days’ long celebrations, dancing in tandem with his kin to the central drumbeat. As George reflects on the significance of Native American Heritage Month, he views the regalia as an opportunity to pay homage to what the month is all about. He notes that there’s no better way to play a part and bring attention to the Native American culture than recognizing the importance of the artistry, both inherent and intrinsic, that lies within each stitch and tassel of his and others’ regalia. “It’s my opportunity to pay tribute, to continue a legacy, and to make those before and after me proud.”