four native women stand shoulder to shoulder in a field with mountains in the background, wearing multi-colored jingle dresses.

Art heals: The Jingle Dress project

While a single jingle makes no sound, together they have the power to heal. This is the hope of The Jingle Dress Project on display Oct. 11-22 in the University of Utah’s A. Ray Olpin Union building.

The Jingle Dress Project originated from artist Eugene Tapahe’s dream to unite the beauty of the land and the healing power of the jingle dance. The goal of the project is to take the healing power of the Ojibwe jingle dress to the land—to travel, to dance and capture a series of images to document the spiritual places our ancestors once walked, and to unite and give hope to the world through art, dance and culture to help us heal.

The Jingle Dancers are two pairs of strong Diné (Navajo) sisters, who believe in this project so much, they volunteer their time to make this project a reality. Erin and Dion Tapahe are Diné (Navajo) from Window Rock, Arizona. Sunni and JoAnni Begay are Diné (Navajo) from Pinedale, New Mexico. All are attending college at Brigham Young University (BYU). Erin recently graduated from BYU and is pursuing a law degree in human rights. Sunni, Dion and JoAnni are currently at BYU with aspirations to continue their post-graduate education in law and medicine.

The four Jingle Dancers are not professional models but are strong examples of Native American women today. They have given much of their time in service and are sharing their native culture through dance. They have danced in Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and China. They know the importance of our connection with the land as Native people and were raised to respect the traditions of their ancestors. In the future, they desire to be advocates for Native American people.

If you missed the Gallery Stroll in the Union, view the virtual gallery here.