Native American Beadwork

Native American beadwork replaced porcupine quill work after the arrival of Europeans. Sinew, linen and silk threads through the earliest of the beadwork.

Many techniques are used to attach Native American beadwork. Some styles are lazy stitch, lane stitch, applique using one or two needles, peyote stitch, and border stitching. Designs, size and colors of the beads are several factors that determine the work’s origin. The material the beads are stitched onto is also an important factor. Most of the beads are Venetian, Russian or Bohemian glass trade beads. Many of the old colors are not available. Old pieces combined different sizes and often ran out of a color. They finished the design with a different color due to the difficulty of getting these beads.

The Comanche and Apache are two tribes that warred for a long time with the Whites. Therefore, trading posts were not established in their territory. But other tribes, like the Crow, befriended the Whites. Therefore, they had many trading posts accessible to them. Because of the bead’s availability, they had a vast array beadwork on much of their possessions. They were able to use many colors, sizes and types. The beads have a history with the Native American people. Many artisans still produce Native American beadwork items today. But the older pieces hold a connection to the past.

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