I have the opportunity to travel to Indian Country as part of my job at Travois. One of my favorite places to visit is the Colville Reservation, located just north of Spokane, WA. From my visits, I’ve learned that beading is an important part of the culture of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Most beadwork is found on regalia worn at powwows or dance contests. Dancers often wear beaded moccasins, cuffs, chokers, armbands, and belts.
On a recent visit, I was intrigued by the beautiful beadwork made by two staff members of the Colville Indian Housing Authority: Ramona Rounds, resident services manager, and Vince McDonald, maintenance supervisor.
Vince and Ramona shared some of their beading projects with me, and the stories behind them. Please read them below.
Beading is a beautiful decorative art, and a powerful symbol of Native American ethnicity. I admire what Vince and Ramona have created, and how beading has helped them heal and grow closer to their families.
Here is some of Vince’s work.
Vince said: “I did this hair barrette after seeing a stained glass with this design. I just couldn’t let the image go, so I decided to put into beadwork.”
Vince said: “This was my first project in about 33 years. It is a barrette that I gave to my daughter for her14th birthday. She loves Hello Kitty!”
Vince said: “I made this medallion for my oldest daughter for Christmas. After I finished, she informed me that she changed her mind and decided to go to the University of Washington instead of Oregon. Bummer!!!”
Vince said: “This is a button I did for St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t have anything green to wear! I got it done in one night but thought afterward that I should have just taken the pinches instead.”
Ramona also shared some of her work, and what beading means to her.
Ramona said: “I only started beading in October 2012. My parents and sisters are avid beaders. I was playing around with a Seahawks medallion that was in process, and I thought ‘I can do that!’ I started making a simple round keychain, and I enjoyed the creative outlet and loved the finished product. I was excited to start my own bead collection and see my own ideas brought to life.”
Ramona said: “In November, my dad ended up in the hospital. My mom and I stayed with him day and night for weeks at a time. During the night when he was sleeping, I started the bear choker. Whenever I got stuck, was uneven or wasn’t sure what to do next, I would ask my dad. He would slip his glasses on and inspect my work and tell me how he would’ve done it. Every now and then I would catch him watching me, and he would tell me how proud his is of me for continuing what he had taught me. He wished I started a long time ago. The doctors and nurses would ask how far I got now and then. My dad passed away in February 2013. I finished the choker for my son in March 2013. I told my son that his grandfather helped me with it. He is proud to wear it when he Traditional Dances.”
Ramona said: “Since I have only been beading less than a year, I don’t have a favorite item to bead yet. I am now working on my first Seahawk medallion for my cousin. Since February, I bead every chance I get. Vince has taken time to teach me even more about this art. His skill level is admirable.”
Ramona said: “I pray a lot while I bead. It keeps my mind occupied and helps me heal. I know my dad is proud.”