Native American Beadwork:

Techniques and Samples

Glass Beads

Mindy Callaway

Graduate School of Library and Information Science

University of Texas at Austin

 

LIS 382L.2

Information Resources in the Humanities

October 17, 2001


Introduction

Beadwork is an art form that has a long tradition in Native American cultures. The use of glass beads by Native Americans began after contact with Europeans. It has been suggested exposure to glass beads first occurred with Christopher Columbus.1 Known as trade beads, pony beads and seed beads, glass beads were first manufactured in and around Venice. Glass beads come in a myriad of colors, with popular colors being blue, green, red, white, and black, and are used in weaving and applique techniques, although some larger beads can be strung on the ends of fringes or necklaces. All manners of items, from clothing and containers to ceremonial pieces, are decorated using beads. Beadwork continues to be created today by Native Americans using traditional methods.

This pathfinder is designed primarily for students at the Northwest Indian College (NWIC) located near Bellingham, WA. All of the items selected for the bibliography and pathfinder are available through sources on the Internet. The pathfinder is intended to:

Provide direction to websites that contain information about Native American beadwork and use of glass beads.

Provide direction to articles with general information about and discussion of Native American beadwork and the use of glass beads.

Provide direction to pages that provide instructional lessons and beadwork projects.

Provide direction to virtual exhibits of Native American beadwork.

Provide direction to bibliographies of resources, including print resources for further reading.

Not being all that familiar with Native American beadwork I began by looking at sources local to me, those being in the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. I found one particular item, the book North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment: From Prehistory to Present by Lois Sherr Dubin be most helpful. Dissimilar to its layout, this book is encyclopedic in the breadth of its coverage. Every region north of Mexico is covered. This large book is filled with many color photographs (over 1000) and is an indispensable source for anyone wanting to learn about Native American beadwork. It was the beauty of the pieces illustrated in this book that inspired me to focus on glass beads.

Once I had gained some background information about the topic, I went to the Internet. I used the search engine Google http://www.google.com because it is fast and thorough. What I discovered is there are no websites specifically devoted to Native American beadwork. Instead there are sites about Native American artwork in general with sections that focus on beadwork or sites about beadwork in general with sections that focus on Native American beadwork. I found numerous sites by using the terms "beadwork and Native American", "Native American and decorative arts or beadwork", "Native American and beadwork and exhibit or museum", "Native American and beadwork and teaching" and "glass beads and Native American". Since the intended use of the resources is educational I tried to stay away from for-profit sites.
The resulting pathfinder can be accessed via the internet at: http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~vlibrary/edres/pathfinders/callaway.htm

 

1. Eddins, O.Ned "Trade Beads for the Indian Trade" The Fur Trapper11 Oct 2001 http://www.thefurtrapper.com/trade_beads.htm


Bibliography

Style Manual

For this bibliography I used the following style manual.

Gibaldi, Joseph MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers New York: Modern Language Association 1999


Search Engine

1. Google 27 Sept 2001 <http://www.google.com>

A popular search engine, Google is fast and thorough. It includes a directory that organizes websites into categories. In addition to searching for websites Google also offers the option to search exclusively for images and groups.

 

Websites

2. Prindle, Tara Nativetech: Native American Technology and Art 27 Sept 2001 <http://www.nativetech.org>

Tara Prindle has compiled a comprehensive site covering virtually every sort of Native American art. Despite all the information, this site is easy to navigate. The bibliography and list of books in the Beads and Beadwork section is vast with a focus on the northeastern United States.

3. Giese, Paula Native American Indian Art 29 Sept 2001 <http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/art.html>

This site consists of a wide variety of Native American art forms and contains links to sites that provide illustrative and written works, as well as commercial sites that sell Native American art. The only drawback to this site is that it has not been updated since 1996.

4. "Native Americans" San Antonio Public Library 29 Sept 2001 <http://www.sat.lib.tx.us/html/nativeam.htm>

An entire section of the San Antonio public library website is devoted to a variety of sources and topics relating to Native Americans. Beadwork can be found under the Art heading. This section provides links to sources about specific types of beadwork as well as general sources.


Articles

5. Christmas, Darren (Dinetah) "Native American Beadworking" Trading Post - Beadwork 11 Oct 2001 <http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/5292/beadwork.htm>

Sizes and types of beads used are discussed and two stitching techniques; overlaid and lazy, are described in detail. A much shorter description of weaving techniques is given as well. A checklist of what to look for when collecting antique pieces ends this article

6. Eddins, O.Ned "Trade Beads for the Indian Trade" The Fur Trapper 11 Oct 2001 <http://www.thefurtrapper.com/trade_beads.htm>

Focusing on efforts by the Hudson Bay Trading Company, this article begins with a history of beads and their movement through the United States as trade goods. Details of the manufacture of glass beads in Europe are included. Types of beads used for trade with Native Americans are described and illustrated with color images. Short section towards the end discusses how wampum was created and used.

7. Giese, Paula "History, Cultural Values of Beads" American Indian Beadwork 27 Sept 2001 <http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/art_bead.html>

This article contains commentary about the resurgence in the commercial popularity of beadwork from a Native American point-of-view. A brief history about the types of materials that Native Americans continue to use is provided, with emphasis on how European traders used glass beads as they made their way inland across North America. It ends with an emphasis on the personal importance of beadwork amongst Native Americans.

8. Giese, Paula "Seed Beading Techniques" Native American Beadwork: Modern Techniques 29 Sept 2001 <http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/art_bea2.html>

This article provides succinct explanations and illustrations of basic beadwork techniques, which utilize Double Needle Applique. The circular rosette, peyote stitch, lazy stitch and loom weaving are the main techniques. A link at the end of the article on where to get beading materials is included.

9. Prindle, Tara "Native American Beadwork: Introduction and Use of Glass Beads" Nativetech: Native American Technology and Art 27 Sept 2001 <http://www.nativetech.org/glasbead/glasbead.html>

While not strictly an article on beadwork, this page provides links to articles about glass beads and their use by Native Americans. There are three articles devoted to glass beads and six articles about beadwork techniques.

10. "Beadwork" Historic Crafts & Skills-Beadwork Conservation Commission of Missouri 30 Sept 2001 <http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/teacher/crafts/craft26.htm>

Compiled by the Conservation Commission of Missouri, three techniques of beadwork are detailed that use larger pony beads. The beginning of the article provides a list of materials necessary for the project. Beading using a loom is illustrated first followed by use of the lazy stitch and appliqué.

11. "Even Count Flat Peyote Stitch" Jump Start Classroom 11 Oct 2001 <http://www.suzannecooper.com/classroom/flat/flat_class.html>

A very simple stitching technique, that would probably be appropriate for younger students. Detailed illustrations and directions are provided. Also on this page are instructions for the more complex odd count stitch. The Jump Start Classroom is a good resource in general for classroom activities.

12. "Round Peyote Stitch" Beltanna's Beadworking 30 Sept 2001 <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/1395/beadwork.html>

Focusing on just the peyote stitch this page includes a lot of step by step illustrations. It begins with a list of materials for the project and follows with detailed instructions. A color illustration of a completed amulet bag appears at the end along with some helpful tips.


Exhibits

13. "Bandolier Bags" Bandoliers Menu: Native American Beadwork 29 Sept 2001 <http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/bando1.html>

In addition to providing images of beaded bandolier bags, this exhibit also explains the context in which they were made and used. A "bandolier" is a type of bag made to be worn over the shoulder and across the chest, and usually has a ceremonial purpose. Native Americans who lived made them in the upper Midwest and the northeastern regions of the United States. This exhibit primarily features badoliers made by members of the Objibwe tribe.

14. "Brilliantly Beaded: Northeastern Native American Beadwork" Hudson Museum University of Maine 29 Sept 2001 <http://www.umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum/virtualexhbts.htm>
Click on the Brilliantly Beaded link.

A variety of items of Native American beadwork are presented in this exhibit. The region covered is the Northeastern United States. Curvilinear and floral motifs are dominant throughout the exhibit. Images can be enlarged so details of each piece can be examined closely.


Bibliographies

15. "Books on Beadwork and Beading" The Bead Site 11 Oct 2001 <http://www.thebeadsite.com/BKSC-BW.html>
Click on the Native American Beadwork and Patterns link, at the lower left corner of the opening page.

Native American beadwork is included as part of a larger bibliography of beadwork titles. All of the titles listed are available for purchase through Amazon.com. According to the webmaster the prices listed next to each title are intended to be guides and not necessarily the actual costs.

16. "Native American Beadwork" Native American Beading Books 29 Sept 2001 <http://members.cox.net/sdsantan/beadfairies.html>
In the sidebar on the left side of the site under Books click on Native American link.

An alphabetical list of books that provide instruction on how to do Native American style beadwork. A one-sentence summary of the contents of each book is given. Prices and publishing information for each book is provided as well.

17. "Native American Beading Section" The Beadwrangler 11 Oct 2001 <http://www.beadwrangler.com/pages-beading5.htm>

From the immense Beadwrangler website this list of titles are all available from Amazon.com. A direct link to Amazon is provided next to each title. Prices are not included.


Pathfinder

Native American Beadwork: Techniques and Samples

Glass Beads

Prepared by Mindy Callaway

http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~vlibrary/edres/pathfinders/callaway.htm


Beadwork is an art form that has a long tradition in Native American cultures. The use of glass beads by Native Americans began after contact with Europeans. The pathfinder is designed to be a user-friendly guide to searching for resources on the Internet, including general websites and articles, instructional lessons and beadwork projects, virtual exhibits of Native American beadwork and bibliographies of resources, including print resources for further reading.

All of the resources in this pathfinder can be accessed using the Google search engine: http://www.google.com


Are there any websites that contain information about Native American beadwork and the use of glass beads?

1. Prindle, Tara Nativetech: Native American Technology and Art http://www.nativetech.org

2. Giese, Paula Native American Indian Art http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/art.html

3. "Native Americans"San Antonio Public Library http://www.sat.lib.tx.us/html/nativeam.htm


I would like to find out some background information about Native American beadwork. Are there any informative articles about this topic?

4. Eddins, O.Ned "Trade Beads for the Indian Trade" The Fur Trapper http://thefurtrapper.com/trade_beads.htm

5. Giese, Paula "History, Cultural Values of Beads" American Indian Beadwork Resources http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/art_bead.html

6. Prindle, Tara "Native American Beadwork: Introduction and Use of Glass Beads" Nativetech: Native American Technology and Art http://www.nativetech.org/glasbead/glasbead.html


I would like to include a beadwork project as a classroom activity. Are there any pages that provide instructions or lesson plans on how to do Native American style beadwork?

7. "Beadwork" Historic Crafts & Skills-Beadwork Conservation Commission of Missouri http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/teacher/crafts/craft26.htm

8. "Even Count Flat Peyote Stitch" Jump Start Classroom http://www.suzannecooper.com/classroom/flat/flat_class.html

9. "Round Peyote Stitch" Beltanna's Beadworking http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/1395/beadwork.html

10. Giese, Paula "Seed Beading Techniques" Native American Beadwork: Modern Techniques http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/beads/art_bea2.html


I would like to show my class some examples of Native American beadwork. Are there any online exhibits?

11. "Bandolier Bags" Bandoliers Menu: Native American Beadwork http://www.kstrom.net.isk/art/beads/bando1.html

12. "Brilliantly Beaded: Northeastern Native American Beadwork" Hudson Museum University of Maine http://www.umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum/virtualexhbts.htm
Click on the Brilliantly Beaded link.


Where can I find more sources about Native American beadwork for further reading?

13. Books on Beadwork and Beading" The Bead Site http://www.thebeadsite.com/BKSC-BW.html
Click on the Native American Beadwork and Patterns link, at the lower left corner of the opening page.

14. "Native American Beadwork" Native American Beading Books http://members.home.net/sdsantan/beadfairies.html
In the sidebar on the left side of the homepage under Books click on the Native American link.

15. "Native American Beading Section" The Beadwrangler http://www.beadwrangler.com/pages-beading5.htm

 

If you need further information do not hesitate to contact a librarian.
Or you can contact me by email: callawaymr@hotmail.com.