Beads to Buckskins

Indian beadwork is a rare and exquisite art passed down through the centuries of time. Bead workers of old spent countless hours stringing tiny beads together to form intricate designs. A great many people believe that the native American Indian had very little creative ability and find their art culture primitive with no thought behind it. I don't believe so!!



A little history
Before the white man came to the North American Continent, the native Indian women dyed seeds and various pieces of wood and porcupine quills to use as decoration on robes and garments and other articles, such as belts, moccasins, war bonnets, leggings, pouches, hairpieces, cradle boards, knife sheaths and necklaces. Animal teeth, shells and certain bones were highly prized. The quill work is said to have been done only in North America and no where else.

With the arrival of the white man came the glass bead. ( I understand that Manhattan Island was traded for about 24 pounds of glass beads.) The Hudson Bay Co. traded blankets and glass beads for fur pelts. The trading of beads progressed very quickly to the Plains Indians and the West Coast tribes.

Just as the automobile replaced the horse and wagon in their modern age, gold and silver coins and paper moneys have replaced glass beads. Glass beads are no longer considered as something of great value. Yet, when they are placed on an evening dress or costume, the garment becomes very expensive; and if your are lucky enough to purchase some original, old glass beads, then your garment becomes even more expensive. A single antique bead " two or three hundred years old " may be very valuable

About the Author

For several years, People, both Indian and other's have asked me to teach them to do beadwork. I have protected my techniques and also my methods of doing old techniques very selfishly, sharing only what I thought would be copied anyway. I've always had an overpowering interest in Native American lifestyles, and since I am Native American Indian, a large part of my life has been spent in research, mainly centered on beadwork and garments. My primary business is making fur and leather garments and authentic costumes. The beadwork is a large part of it. Over 50%.

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