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Someone You Should Know: Clothing designer preserving indigenous culture in schools

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 11:26 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Kyrie Dunkley is the owner of Shinin Star Style, a mother, and an advocate for the preservation of indigenous culture.

“Kyrie has been a really strong advocate for our native students and families,” said Chair Person for the Office of Indian Education Anna Brokenleg.

She works with schools and the community by providing sewing services, stories, songs, and language through traditional and wearable art.

“It’s been really inspirational for me. I think one of the things we always say in education is that we want parents who partner in their children’s education and it’s great when you have parents like Kyrie who partner not just for their own students and their student’s needs but also spread that beyond to other students and families in the district to help make a difference,” said Brokenleg.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Kyrie decided to make a collection of ribbon skirts for Murdered Missing Indigenous Women.

“I encourage the language, I have it on my shirts. I encourage storytelling. I have a lot of storytelling in my pieces,” said Kyrie.

Her clothing can be found in local shops in downtown Sioux Falls where she also sells Ribbon Skirt Kits.

“I love to see the support from Sioux Falls for the indigenous community and to break down the stereotypes that may be out there,” said Kyrie.

She was the organizer of an honor ceremony for high school graduates in Sioux Falls.

“Last year, an alumnus told us during that meeting that when she wanted to go to graduation with a beaded cap and full regalia on under her gown, she got a lot of push back. So that is something we wanted to make sure is approved for this coming year. It just so happened that there was a bill going through the legislation at the same time so it was kind of like a victory,” said Kyrie.

“Being able to portray our culture and honor our culture in positive ways, and to create a space for our youth to be able to link education and positive cultural integration is just really important for students’ success and the revitalization of our culture as a whole,” said Brokenleg.

“It’s part of our customs to make sure that our children are always well taken care of and dressed their best during moments like this,” said Kyrie.

“It also provides us an opportunity for healing. It connects us with culture positively and most native people have been dealing with the impacts of generational and historical trauma, and so being able to use art as an outlet for that and a healing process is really important to everybody in our community,” said Brokenleg.

Kyrie will continue to create opportunities and inspiration for young people to be proud of who they are and where they come in their education and futures.

“I just hope it lights a fire with them. And it spreads, and it creates a ripple effect amongst everybody here in the community. There is a lot of healing that needs to take place, and this is just a small step towards that,” said Kyrie.

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