Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project

The Beginning, Our Project

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I had a dream. I was sitting in a grass field at Yellowstone National Park watching the bison graze on the horizon as the sun set. And then, in the distance, I heard the healing sound of jingles. One by one, beautiful jingle dress dancers appeared. It was as if they were dancing with the bison to the rhythm of a silent drum. It was beautiful and peaceful.
When I awoke I felt it in my heart, this was more than a dream. I couldn’t deny it. I wanted to because it seemed impossible to obtain, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the turmoils of the racial and political differences in the world. As I retold the dream to my family they could feel it too. We knew this had to happen. We started the project with little money and lots of faith and hope it would work. It had to.
“Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project” was born. Our goal 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. On the first photo shoot, Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni and I learned how to work together. They weren’t models. I wasn’t a portrait photographer. It was awkward, frustrating and new. But, from the moment they started to jingle dance on the land, it all changed. I felt, what I felt in my dream–beauty and peace.
I cried. I could feel myself healing from the uncertainties of the world––time slowed down. As I listened to the jingles, I knew I was where I was suppose to be. I was doing what I was suppose to do and no matter how difficult this project would be, it needed to be done.
Several months later, the project is bigger than I imagined. The support, the love, and the encouragement from all over the world is inspirational. It motivates Dion, Erin, JoAnni, Sunni and I through our trials and difficulties while we travel on our photo shoots. It has been beautiful, emotional, empowering and most importantly, healing.
We hope you join us on this spiritual journey, follow us on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK for updates. We have t-shirts and scarves available. If you are interested in purchasing prints of our images, see TAPAHE PHOTOGRAPHY. If you would like to donate see our Venmo account: @Jingle-Dress-Project or see PayPal link below.

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“An extraordinary project envisioned by my friend, Eugene Tapahe, a talented photographer, devoted husband & father and a kind, gentle human being. I share his hope of “uniting the land and the people through art, dance and culture to help us all heal together.””

Our Travels, Jingle Dress Project

So far, we have traveled over 25,000 miles! The girls willingly have camped in the cold and rain, have done their homework on their phones, had cold sandwiches and/or meals, have put on their makeup in a moving vehicle, and dressed into their regalia in the wild––to heal the land and people.
ROAD TRIP FACTS: been on the road 36 days, been to 18 different U.S. states, had over 120 meals on the road • BEST SNACKS: cucumbers, celery, carrots, apples, nuts, granola bars, red licorice, gummy bears, sunflower seeds, water, Diet Pepsi, Izze Sparkling Drink • THEME SONG: The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman (In a Long Black Dress);” • STREAMED TV SERIES: Gray’s Anatomy and Big Bang Theory • ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS: bear, bison, elk, deer, moose, eagle, squirrels and bees • COVID-19 SAFETY: Cleaned and sanitized 45 hotel rooms and cabins, used 45 cans of Lysol, 8 bottles of hand sanitizer, 75 pairs of surgical gloves • TRIP TIPS: Make noises while in the forest. Don’t give bear spray to the scaredest person. Don’t run if you see a bear. Have bug spray, sunscreen and a flashlight. Lastly always travel with your best friends and live in the moment!

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Our T-Shirts are Available

Our official t-shirts, “Heal the People, Protect the Sacred,” are available for sale. The t-shirts are $30 plus shipping and come in red and black. We also have our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Commemorative red scarves available for $20 and jingle dress pins for $5 plus shipping. All proceeds go to our project. You can buy our t-shirts, red scarves and pins at the link below:

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Culturs Magazine Cover

We are excited to be featured on the cover of Culturs Magazine's first interactive, digital production as a 2020 Lookbook (See Lookbook Here). The magazine gives an overview of some of the best cross-cultural finds from this year. It includes amazing products, productions and initiatives by cross-cultured individuals, including awe-inspiring initiatives by Black and Indigenous artists and others in our community. Our story will also be included in this month's print version of the magazine, the cover features newly elected U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris.

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PBS American Portrait Series

We were invited by PBS New York to share our project, "Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project," on their national storytelling series, "PBS American Portrait." The video was created and edited by my daughter, Dion Tapahe, and our close friend, Bryan Jansen, is singing and playing the hand drum.
Now is the time...to unite the beauty of the land and healing power of the jingle dress dance during these uncertain times of COVID-19 and the turmoils of the racial and political differences in the world.

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Native Girls Be Like, Natives React

YouTuber, Patrick Willie, invited the "Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project," girls, Sunni, Erin, Dion and JoAnni as special guests on his Natives React show. It currently has over 500,000 views and is Patrick's most popular video. The online comment section is filled with positive, uplifting, and encouraging comments about the project.

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“Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project has an amazing story and the images truly represents the strength and courage of the Native American people. The strong young women that are part of this project set an example for our Native youth. ”

The Jingle Dress Dancers

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 (my daughters) are Diné (Navajo) from Window Rock, AZ. Sunni and JoAnni Begay (Sisters) are Diné (Navajo) from Pinedale, NM. All are attending college at Brigham Young University (BYU) and 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. They 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.

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“Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project has been a huge blessing to me during these times of uncertainty; I’ve reinvented my craft and combined many elements to create a harmonious outlook that has captured many people’s hearts. And, it all started from a dream I had.”