Cheyenne's bridal session with Picturesque Photos by Amanda celebrated her Native American heritage. The session took place on a 16-acre outdoor studio near Keystone Lake outside of Tulsa, formerly part of a reservation. Cheyenne is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a descendent of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws Deer Clan, and part Cherokee Native. All of her jewelry and accessories had special meaning, but I'll leave that to Cheyenne to explain!
A Choctaw Nation bridal session in Oklahoma
Earrings: On my 18th birthday, my grandmother passed down to me 4th generation pure brass feather earrings. While the original origin of the earrings has become lost in years of family tales, their journey in my family continues with myself and my admiration of Native American traditions and values.
Red and White Collar: The collar includes between 16,000 and 17,000 beads and took about two weeks to complete. Both Choctaw men and women adorn collars similar to this one when wearing traditional regalia. Some designs are more simple, like the one shown, while others are more elaborate including intricate designs and even images.
Long Beaded Choker: This particular Cherokee choker is made of deer leather, red seed and brass beads, genuine stained hairpipe bone (horizontal) and buffalo horn (centerpiece). Originally, chokers were used as a form of armor but are now worn with regalia or as decoration. My grandmother passed this piece down to me on my 16th birthday as a sign of protection.
Necklace: This pure silver and onyx necklace was gifted me on my 21st birthday by my aunt. She acquired it while traveling in Navajo country. Onyx stones are believed to have a calming effect due to their ability to collect negative energy away from the wearer of the stone.
Wedding Vase: The two spouts of the Wedding Vase represent the separate lives of the bride and groom, which are united by the bridge at the top. On the day of the wedding, the vase is filled with holy water and given to the bride. She drinks from one side and the groom drinks from the other. The ceremony is complete when the bride and groom drink from the vase simultaneously. Our Wedding Vase was completed with real horsehair during the final stage of finishing. This is not only a beautiful and intricate process but it also makes each vase, just like each love, unique. This ceremony was dear to us and we enjoyed sharing the tradition with our loved ones.
Feathers: The red hawk feather in my hair was a gift of blessing bestowed upon me by my father from his own personal collection. In my family, the gift of a feather is highly revered and is seen as a sign of great respect. The turkey feather is largely utilized by tribes of the Eastern United States, especially that of the Southeastern tribes. As a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a descendent of the band of Mississippi Choctaws Deer Clan, turkey feathers are prominent in my regalia. These feathers are used in hair pieces, fans, decorative artwork and ceremonial pieces.
Shawl: Shawls have always been a noticeable addition to a Choctaw women’s attire. Originally shawls were utilized as a way to keep warm but have since turned into a staple of Native American fashion and culture. Shawl making is another tradition passed down by family. The shawl pictured was my first shawl to complete by myself. It is completely handmade with 14″ red fringe and matching appliqué. Red is one of the preferred Choctaw dress colors along with blue, green and purple.
Pendleton Blanket: The Pendleton Blanket was gifted to me by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in association with the Johnson O’Malley Program. Throughout my time in elementary and secondary school, the Johnson O’Malley Program was a large contributor to keeping myself, my siblings and many others like us en route to graduate. They provided those less fortunate with school supplies and rewarded scholastic achievements in order to promote education and raise graduation rates among Native American students. – Cheyenne