I’m featuring pictures of Plateau Indian beaded moccasins for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The challenge this week is “A labor of love.”
After so much was taken away from Native Americans, creating beadwork became a labor of love. They preserved parts of their culture by decorating everyday items.
Prior to the European invasion of North America, Native Americans decorated their clothing with shells, porcupine quills, and bones.
In the early years of European settlement, pony beads were often offered in trade. Seed beads became available in the late 1800s. Seed beads are smaller and come in a wider variety of colors compared to pony beads.
Many of the designs used in the early years of beading were geometric. They generally included symbols important to specific tribes and regions.
Techniques for applying the beads varied. One technique involved threading several beads onto a thread. Thread on a second needle tacked these lines of beads onto the material.
By the late 1800s, realistic designs became more common. For example, patterns often included local flowers and wildlife.
In the early 1900s, more types of beads were available and designs became more elaborate. Interest in buying beadwork increased. As a result, designs changed to include marketable patterns, including American flags.
These Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, displayed at the High Desert Museum like works of art, showcase the skills of their makers.