Beading as an art form: land activism, cultural history and resurgence – The Concordian

by ahnationtalk on March 23, 2020155 Views

March 23, 2020

How are Indigenous artists beading today?

Embroidery has always been an important part of Indigenous culture, especially with its prevalence on personal items. Embroidery showcases layered floral patterns, often described as a “relatively narrow spectrum of colours.” It carries an important tradition and representation of artistic freedom for these communities, who have distinct and unique styles even to this day.

Another important medium for Indigenous women is the use of shells, bones or seeds, the earliest form of beadwork. This was used in everyday life and sacred times, using geometrical patterns, showcasing different shapes and ornaments in a variety of colours.

Created with string, white and purple shell beads, wampum belts were the physical representation of treaties and alliances. Wampum symbolizes a living record of events, relations and agreements and could even be used to represent the confirmation of relationships, including marriage proposals. Wampum belts were also used to invite nations and settlers to a meeting. They represented agreements on the behalf of First Peoples and settlers, however settlers chose to disregard the wampum belts as legally-binding.

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