Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Traditional Beading Workshop Teaches Youth the Art

By Richard D. Ackley, Jr.
Collen Poler, a Tribal Elder and mentor, and Cassandra Graikowski, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, worked with youth and parents in the first of a series of beading workshops held at the Recreation Center last Friday evening.

This first session, hosted by the SCC Cultural Committee, enabled participants to create their own design using “Seed Bead Graph Paper” also known as “Square or Loom Work Graph” paper. Participants were instructed to fill in the small circles on the paper, covering each individual dot with a single bead.

The second session was held last Saturday afternoon, and began with each participant completing a short survey that asked, “What would you like to bead, and in what colors?” Each participant chose a beading style to include “Peyote Stich”, loom style or freehand. Materials were provided including paper and pens, looms, various colors of beads, string, needles and containers.
A goal of the workshop is to keep the traditional Ojibwe art alive by teaching youth to understand the process and be able to someday teach others. The highly ornate and bilaterally symmetrical beaded florals generally produced on a dark background are classic Anishinaabe style.
Ojibwe beadwork frequently includes a combination of both identifiable and fantasy plants. Contemporary Ojibwe bead workers are challenged to find their own definitive style while working within the tradition. Creating beadwork art requires gaining the proper skills necessary, as the work is tedious and completing each piece requires patience. Earrings, bracelets and applique are all part of the overall finished product of this type of art.
The Ojibwe designs represent the Woodland Indian style of the Great Lakes Region and generally model the various seasons of nature. Each design is created to attempt to replicate the natural world and include flower designs, indigenous plants, animals, insects and human images.
Ojibwe beadwork is also a popular to way earn money, and is used to adorn traditional outfits such as traditional dance regalia.

The classes are designed to instill ancestral pride in workmanship and with the unique skills tied directly to Anishinaabe culture. The workshop is open to all ages. Youth under the age of 17 were required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information, contact Cassandra Graikowski at (715)-522-0757 or Ryan Randall at (715) 478-7511.