Native American Art --> Beadwork
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Originally, Native American beads were carved from natural materials like shells, coral, turquoise and other stones, copper and silver, wood, amber, ivory, and animal bones, horns, and teeth. Glass beads were not used until the colonists brought them from Europe 500 years ago, but like horses, they quickly became part of American Indian culture. Today glass beads, particularly fine seed beads, are the primary materials for traditional beaders of many tribes.
These two Blackfeet ladies make classic Plains beadwork including possible bags, pouches, purses, and knife sheaths. They also bead leather shoulder strips for shirts or jackets (clothing not included, you have to attach the strips yourself.)
Martha Berry Beadwork|
Artistic Cherokee Indian beadwork including beaded belts, sashes, and bandolier bags.
Ancient Ways Purses and Bags|
Beaded buckskin and elk hide bags, purses and parfleche by Shoshoni and Arapaho artists.
Alaskan Indian Beadwork|
Fine art beadwork designs by Tlingit beaders. The raven to the left is beaded onto a felt backing, for artistic display. They also carry beaded medicine bags.
Dakota Creations Beadwork|
This Dakota Sioux couple beads leather pouches, bags, and knife sheaths in Plains Indian styles.
They also make deerskin-backed beaded bracelets.
Bone and Bead Jewelry|
Plains Indian beaded jewelry by Blackfoot artists including peyote stitch necklaces like this one, beaded deerskin bracelets, and hair pipe chokers.
California Indian Jewelry|
Traditional West Coast beaded jewelry featuring abalone, dentalium, and other shell beads, for sale from a California Indian cultural organization.
Navajo Beadwork Necklaces|
Heishi and hand-woven bead jewelry from a Navajo tribal art enterprise.
Zuni Coyote Jewelry and Beadwork|
This Zuni-Cheyenne couple make beaded jewelry in Pueblo and Plains Indian styles, also hairpipe chokers and beaded hatbands. Most of their work is custom orders though they do have some pre-made beadwork for sale.
Ancient Ways Beaded Jewelry|
Shoshone beadwork necklaces and belt buckles from the Wind River Reservation.
Contemporary beaded jewelry by a Red Lake Ojibwe artist. Email her for prices.
Tlingit Beadwork Jewelry|
Northwestern Native American beadwork designs on bracelets and medallion necklaces.
This Mohawk woman makes some nice earrings and rosettes from beads and porcupine quills. Most of her work is by commission only.
Plains Indian Birth Amulets|
These are traditional Arapaho beadwork amulets for keeping a newborn's umbilical cord and bringing him or her good luck. A great baby gift!
Beadwork Navel Fetishes|
More Plains Indian beadwork amulets for baby's umbilical cord, these ones by Blackfoot beaders. They sell beaded keychains, too.
|Finding fully beaded Native American regalia for sale is almost impossible. It takes more than a year to fully bead a long dress or other traditional outfit, and nobody goes to this trouble unless it's been specifically requested (usually by a family member). And no one ever sells their own regalia which has been specially made for them; that would be disrespectful. There are several good native artists from whom you can custom-order beaded moccasins, however. If you admire their work enough, perhaps you could approach them about beading you a different piece of regalia. Or, you can have a look at our Native American Regalia page, where there are clothes with traditional embroidery or beadwork highlights available for sale.|
Waaban Aki Wampum|
I think this is the only non-tribal artist we have linked to anywhere on our art pages. This couple (the man is unenrolled Ojibway, his wife is non-native) have been involved with and accepted by the native community for many years and provide invaluable educational services to us, so I feel they deserve a place here. These wampum belts and jewelry are reproductions of traditional styles, using acrylic wampum beads rather than quahog.
Dial Trading Company|
This Lumbee Indian family makes wampum jewelry out of single pieces of quahog shell. The jewelry is made in a different kind of style which is not traditional, but it is made out of real quahog and is very nice looking.
|Though the traditional embroidery of clothing and bandolier bags with porcupine quills is a lost art today, contemporary native artists still weave beautiful quill boxes, baskets, and jewelry today. Visit our Native American Quillwork gallery to see some of them.|
The Huichol Indians of Mexico have a different tradition of beadworking, in which they coat objects such as gourd bowls and ceremonial masks with beeswax, then press beads into the wax to make colorful native designs.
|Complete Guide to Traditional Native American Beadwork||Native American Beadwork||Beauty, Honor, and Tradition||North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment|
|Extensive instructions on native beading, especially Woodland Indian beadwork.||Indian beadwork patterns of the Southwest presented for beginning beaders.||Outstanding exploration of Plains Indian beadwork, quillwork, clothing and culture. Many photographs.||Beautiful book showcasing Native American beadwork and jewelry from different tribes. Many photographs.|
|Western Sioux Quill and Beadwork||Crow Indian Beadwork||Navajo Beadwork: Architectures of Light||North American Indian Beadwork Patterns|
|History and design of Dakota and Lakota beadwork.||Illustrated description and history of Crow beadwork.||Book on the history and artistry of Navajo Indian beadwork.||Pattern book featuring Sioux, Crow, and Cheyenne beadwork designs.|
About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We are not artists ourselves, so if you are interested in buying some of the beadwork featured on this page, please contact the artists directly. Though we have featured only Native American beadwork identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally. We also don't guarantee any of their products. This is not an exhaustive list of American Indian beading--if you would like us to add your beadwork to this page, please contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation. We advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to beadwork which is not made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists, so please do not ask us to. And finally, websites do occasionally expire and change hands, so use your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual artwork is not identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at authentic American Indian beadwork.
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