Native American tribes across the country have adopted beadwork as a form of artistic expression, using unique formations of colors, beads, and patterns to define themselves. This tradition began before recorded history and consisted of using any materials they could find, including bones, feathers, and shells to create festive pieces of art. In Utah, the major tribes including: Ute, Dine’ (Navajo), Paiute, Goshute, and Shoshone (source) continue to create treasured beadwork. Contemporary Native American beadwork is a highlight of the upcoming 2019 Living Traditions Festival, giving visitors the chance to connect with this ancient art form and those making it.

Ute Beaded Tail Bag
Ute beaded tail bag (source)

Native American beadwork appears in many forms; however, the art is generally defined by two primary types. The lazy stitch, or lane stitch, is identified by lanes comprised of rows of beads. Used for many geometric and clothing designs, this technique is commonly produced by tribes throughout the Great Plains region. The tack stitch is used to capture a greater amount of detail, producing a piece with a uniform smooth texture (source)

                                                    Great Plains Lazy Stitch                                                                    Lane Stitch Beadwork

                                 Lazy stitch beadwork from the Great Plains (source)                                                                Lane stitch beadwork (source)

Like any form of art, Native American beadwork is constantly evolving as new artists begin to explore the medium. The Living Traditions Festival will be showcasing this Native American beadwork, among other unique forms of traditional crafts. Join us May 17-19 to see the intricacies and meaning behind Native American beadwork creations firsthand.