This past year, I spent some time gathering beading and crafting books from second hand stores. It started as a rescue mission, but it turned into something more. Initially, I would purchase these books to ensure that they didn’t get into the hands of well-intentioned teachers who think that doing a “Native craft” is an act of reconciliation. It is one thing to participate in the act of beading, this has been a practice of people all over the world for centuries, but it is another thing to replicate art, including patterns and colours, created by Indigenous people. Some of these motifs are nation-specific, family-specific, or even specific to an individual who may have received them in ceremony. Unfortunately, despite efforts to educate teachers, cultural appropriation still happens regularly in classrooms.
Although some of these books are horribly written by non-Indigenous authors, I am actually reading many of these beading books for my own interest now. As I flip though the pages, I am amazed by the beauty and time it must have taken, especially given the materials available. The patterns weren’t purchased on Etsy and the colours of beads more limited but yet they were able to create these intricate and stunningly precise designs. I decided to try and learn some of the techniques from long ago once I start beading the individual flowers. I want to try and bead as many different styles as I can, to use a variety of different types and sizes of beads. I feel like this will be part of a creative process that really looks different from the beading I have been doing thus far. I can hardly wait to finish now and to get started on something new, this has taken me way longer than I ever imagined.