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MMIR Red Shawl Making Workshops

Updated: May 16

In collaboration with the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake (UICSL) Behavioral Health Services and Sacred Circle Healthcare—IHAWC Executive Director, Shelby Chapoose, taught members of the community the basics of shawl making.


This two-part workshop was intended to be preparation for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) Day on May 5th. The shawl material was red and participants had the option to choose from colors of the medicine wheel for their fringe. The workshop series was limited to 25 participants and spots were filled within 30 minutes of the workshop being announced.


The night before the first workshop Chapoose, Rose Jakub, and Kristina Groves (UICSL Interim Director of Behavioral Health Services) cut and serged the red shawl material for each participant. The next morning, with assistance from Allyson Shaw (UICSL Therapist), Ronnie Pessetto, DeShawn Undergust (Sacred Circle Healthcare Community Wellness Specialist), and Jakubs the UICSL Hall was lined with sewing machines, ironing boards, and all the other materials needed for the workshop.


A meal was provided by Sacred Circle Healthcare and participants ate while introductions were made. After which, the time was turned over to Chapoose who shared their story of healing and sewing.


When I was younger, my mother taught me to make shawls. My favorite thing to do in the summer was to sit outside under the big cottonwood tree my grandfather planted and add fringe the shawls my mother hemmed. I didn’t start seriously sewing until a few years ago when my grandmother started her journey. One of her last requests was that all of her granddaughters and great-granddaughters had ribbon skirts to wear at her funeral.-Chapoose

Chapoose then shared their determination to make sure all 12 granddaughters had skirts. But, there were two major things that stood in the way.

Number 1: At the time, Chapoose hadn’t sewed since middle school.

Number 2: There were only 4 days to sew all 12 skirts.

With the help of Chapoose's mother Michelle Chapoose and sister Gabrielle Pike, their grandmother's request was fulfilled with literal minutes to spare. Since then, Chapoose views sewing as a way of healing and an opportunity to provided for those she loves.


I started sewing out of the love I have for my grandmother, sisters, and nieces. Shawls are a way to ease into your sewing journey. They also provide comfort and protection. The shawls we are making today are to provide healing from our collective grief of MMIR issues we face as an Indigenous Community.-Chapoose

Participants sewed the hems of their shawls; only a few seams needed to be ripped and re-sewn.


The following week, the second part of the workshop was held at Sacred Circle Healthcare. Similarly to the first workshop, participants were greeted with a meal provided by Sacred Circle Healthcare. Set up and preparations were made with the help of Heather Molyneaux (UICSL Behavioral Health Case Manager) and Undergust. Chapoose then gave instructions on how to fringe the shawls. Each shawl was unique and reflected its maker.


Fringing is the most time consuming part of making a shawl. Chapoose spent 6 hours to fringe 240 fringe cords to their sample shawl, which is less fringe then they say they would normally use. Because of how time consuming this portion of shawl making is, some participants were unable to finish fringing their shawls during the workshop; but were sent home with the supplies needed to finish. 


May 5th is a day of great significance for Native American communities across the U.S., as it is known as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) Day. This day serves as a reminder of the violence and injustice that Native American women and men face at higher rates than other races. During the week of May 5th, many Native American communities and organizations hold events to raise awareness about this issue and to honor those who have been lost. The MMIR movement provides a platform for indigenous strength and healing opportunities for individuals, families, and communities.” -Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, May Newsletter


If you would like to make a shawl of your own, download the "Red Shawl Workshop" guide created by Shelby Chapoose, on the IHAWC Educational Partnerships page at https://www.ihawc.org/educational-partnerships


To support community educational opportunities like this, please consider donating to IHAWC by visiting



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