Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bead it, just bead it...

I love Lakota beadwork -
(an infants baptismal cap)

(children's clothes and beaded backboard - on far left)

the traditional Native American handiwork 
which adorns both items of clothing and household goods.

For me, just seeing these items
conjures up images of women sitting around a fire,
the finest needle in hand,
stringing tiny bead after bead,
creating exquisite objects for her families use
and personal adornment.

I had the chance to gain a first hand understanding
of exactly how hard this skill is
during my recent trip to South Dakota.

While traditionally a women's artform,
apparently there have always been men who were drawn to beading as well -
and this is true even today.

We had a male beader,
an ancestor of Chief Spotted Tail (Sinte Gleska)
shown here with two of his wives
come to the dorm one evening 
to teach us how to make a simple six stranded bracelet.
I was shocked -
at how difficult it was;
even more shocked at exactly how terrific our men were
in learning and embracing
this new skill!

For the rest of our trip,
it was the men who were frequently downstairs -
after working hard at construction all day -
concentrating at their looms.

This took two evenings!
I can't even imagine the HOURS it takes to create some of the beaded work
shown above on the clothing -
both antique and contemporary.

I disappointed myself with not having more patience -
or better eyesight -
and my attempt was of extremely short duration.

I guess some of us are just called to appreciate - and buy - other peoples works!

It made me love the pieces I've acquired over the years
even more!

 The woman in the picture frame is my great grandmother;
a Native American who was removed from her reservation,
sent to the Carlisle Indian school in PA,
subsequently 'adopted' by a Dutch family and raised in Allentown -
never to return to her family or her tribe.
I absolutely adored her -
and I was blessed to have her for the first 10 years of my life,
knowing, beyond all doubt,
that the feeling was mutual.
 This doll was found, wrapped in brown paper,
 at the bottom of a drawer when she died.
I was actually hoping retirement
would give me time to do more genealogy work
and find out what reservation she'd been from -
and what her tribal name was,
not her school given Christian name.

There's not a day I don't think of her
and the impact she had on my life...

time at the County library genealogy computers,
with their resource people,
 is rapidly moving to the top of my short priority 'to-do' list!

Wish me luck!

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