When I started this site, I used a combination of writing and photography to tell stories about the Great Dismal Swamp. The early years were solitary, and I spent most of my time reading and writing alone. As I increased my involvement in the community and started participating in cultural events, I found myself wanting to wear items inspired by my love for my ancestral environment. Over the past few years, I have created a collection of regalia to show honor and share stories.
When European settlers arrived, red wolves were abundant throughout the southeast. Under the forces of colonialism, they were almost extinct by the early 1900s. Captive breeding programs were initiated to restore the population in the 1970s, but their protection was still hindered by their resemblance to gray wolves and coyotes and the controversy over their origins and admixture. Today, the last remaining wild red wolves in northeast North Carolina struggle to survive with few of the resources they need to thrive.
The similarities between the red wolves’ experience and that of the indigenous people of the southeast are undeniable. As our people built blended families to survive, our resemblance to others and admixture were used to deny our existence. As we lost the resources we needed to thrive, many believed we were not worth protecting because we were no longer unique. I made this dress to tell the story of the red wolf, which is also my story. I am proud of my diverse ancestry and the resilience of my people.