Summer Regalia Series Part Two: The Finer Details

To learn about how the Summer Regalia Series came to fruition, check out Part One: Intro & First Concept.

Materials – Wool

The light buckskin, recognized as a sign of wealth, provides a neutral palette for adornments and designs to stand out from. Incorporating wool was a must (it’s an important part of both Nations’ cultures), and enabled color to be added to the pieces. The Squamish Nation would utilize mountain goat wool for their ceremonial blankets, while the Lil’wat Nation used it for bedding and warmth.

Nowadays, regalia creators use sheep wool but they treat it with the same respect as if it was from a mountain goat. Photo: Logan Swayze.

Mentor – Tracy Williams

Leather and wool work are both massive jobs, so the team involved master weaver Tracy Williams, Squamish Nation, to create the wool woven pieces in 2017. Tracy made nine pieces in total, each set having a distinct color palette: three wool woven and cedar skirts, three men’s belts, and three headbands. These functional adornments enabled each garment to be worn by different body types. This summer, the garments are being tailored to accommodate smaller ambassadors.

Tracy made nine pieces in total, each set having a distinct color palette: three wool woven and cedar skirts, three men’s belts, and three headbands. Photo: Logan Swayze.

Design – Lacing

When lacing the pieces together, durability was top of mind throughout the process: not punching the holes too big and taking away too much material was essential. Each hole was carefully measured and used twice to pull lacing through. If a little extra room was required, an awl tool was used to stretch the holes. Once finished, the holes were unrecognizable, purposefully elevating the quality of the regalia. Any leather removed during the creation of the regalia, such as the punch outs from the holes, will be burned in a sacred fire to send them back to nature. 

Photo: Jennifer Adelson


When it came to representing both cultures, adornments added on top of the leather were integral to mindfully blending Squamish and Lil’wat traits. Each of the adornments added to the regalia this summer is representative of either one, or both, Nations:

Cedar, considered the tree of life, is heavily utilized by both Nations. Incorporating cedar skirts is representative of Lil’wat. These accommodate regalia size and flexibility, providing ease for various people, regardless of size or gender, to wear the same outfit. The skirts also protect the leather from the elements as they repel and absorb water. 

Cedar paddle adornments were selected to represent Squamish Nation, an ocean-going people. Kelp Cutter paddles (pictured below) were gifted to the project, and different paddle styles will continue to be added throughout the regalia’s tenure.

The diamond shaped Kelp Cutter would cut through plant life to allow the seaweed and plants to fall off on their own rather than be pulled with the boat. 
Photo: Jennifer Adelson

Horsehair represents how the Lil’wat Nation are horse-going people who used horses to travel where rivers could not take them. Faux horsehair has been meticulously gathered over the past three years, pressed into metal retainers that will eventually hang from the regalia.


When working on regalia, Sutikem strives to put good energy into her work. These regalia are living pieces, and she wants to see them danced ‘until she is grey’. Still, in her early 20s, this is an inspiring goal and we look forward to it coming to fruition.

Sutikem works on the pieces Thursday to Saturday on the Great Hall’s balcony; she welcomes guests to visit her and ask questions about her process. If you can’t join us onsite, we host weekly live streams Thursdays at noon on our Facebook to share her progress and answer questions. If you’re interested in supporting the ongoing work of this project, you can make a donation to this project.

Jennifer Adelson is the Digital Marketing Specialist for Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre for the summer.

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