Native American Beadwork

With a host of different styles, colors, materials and crafting techniques, Native American Beadwork is known for its beauty, its craftsmanship, however it plays a crucial role in the ceremonies and traditions of the Native American people as well as helps preserve the culture and traditions of the numerous tribes within North America.

Native American beadwork can be carved from shells, coral, stones, animal bones and other materials, reflecting the Native Americans deep relationship with the earth and mother nature. Often string together with animal sinew, reeds or plants, Native American beadwork reflects the attention to detail that the Native Americans had and demonstrates their superior crafting techniques.

Native American beadwork examples have been found for centuries, dating back to their arrival in North America long before the first of what would be many settlers arrived in the late 1400s from Europe and elsewhere.

The Settlers Influence On Native American Beadwork

When they arrived, the settlers brought with them glass, and Native American beadwork crafters began to employ the use of glass beads in their workings, allowing for different styles and designs and the use of different techniques. Native American beadwork was often used by the Native Americans to trade for other items, such as glass, knives, metals, food, steel, horses, etc…so the role of Native American beadwork and Native American crafts in the relationship between the early settlers and the Native Americans can not be discounted.

The most popular form of Native American beadwork, including a choker necklace made of sinew and bone, was popularized in the westerns of old fashioned cinema and television, but that only provides a very fleeting glimpse into the world and wonders of Native American beadwork.

Native American beadwork also figures prominently in Native American traditions and rituals, and today’s Native American beadwork artists seek to capture and retain that sense of tradition to not only share its beauty with the world, but continue to pass the techniques down within their own tribes.

Joseph Paige 2006

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