Dorothy (Dolly) Printup Winden, Tuscarora, Deer Clan

Title: Dorothy (Dolly) Printup Winden, Tuscarora, Deer Clan
Image size: 36 x 29 inches

Medium: Colored and graphite pencils, acrylic, watercolor and ink

Dolly Printup Winden is a fourth generation beadworker whose work is based on traditional spiritual beliefs. “I always start my stitches from the bottom up because you are bringing praise to the Creator and with the down stitch bringing the Creators’ blessing back into the cloth,” says Dolly. This lesson and many others were taught to her by her grandmother Matilda Chew Hill and her mother Dorothy Hill Printup. These principals are foremost in Dolly’s mind when she does her beadwork. Matilda was considered one of the leading beadworkers of her time who was well known for her decorative beaded birds which she would attach a distinctive significance. “The Creator made birds for us to see, hear and enjoy, but in the spring, the birds are to sing a song to wake up the beautiful flowers in nature. Everything has been underground and asleep for our long winter season. The flowers and plants can’t see the daylight from there, but their hearing never leaves. So the spring birds’ song wakes them up and everything comes popping through the ground.”

Dolly began doing beadwork as a child, “as soon as I knew my colors and could count.” Like many Tuscaroras of her generation, her first pieces were jitterbugs – often worn as pins on apparel and constructed with large beads that were easy for a child’s hand to manipulate.

“During the 1950s, my Grandma, my mother and I, along with several other Indian women, would travel to Prospect Point in Niagara Falls to sell our beadwork. Selling beadwork provided income for many families during times of economic struggle. The Tuscarora community credits Grandma Hill (as she was known to the family) with organizing a beadwork cottage industry on the Tuscarora Reservation. Many lessons were taught to me by my grandmother, my mother and my paternal great grandmother Sophronia Thompson. All are foremost in my mind when I sew,” says Dolly.  In late August, she and Grandma Hill would pack up their bedding and beadwork and head out on their annual one hundred ninety mile auto trip to the State Fair in Syracuse, New York where for ten days, they sold their beadwork in the Indian Village.

For a time, Dolly gave up beadwork to raise her family and to pursue a professional degree but this departure did not last for very long. While living at Akwesasne, she picked up beadworking again as a way to remedy her longing for family at Tuscarora. “Doing my beadwork made me less homesick and it was a way to have my Grandmas with me. I’ve been doing beadwork ever since,” says Dolly.

Although her grandmothers have passed on, Dolly continues to learn from them. When her aunt brought her a beaded medallion necklace that was in need of repair, one that had been made by her grandmother Matilda, she realized that it had a particular stitch that she was unfamiliar with.  Repairing it required that she learn Matilda’s technique so she could reconstruct it.  “Grandma taught me a new lesson that day,” Dolly explained.

Dolly has built upon her family’s tradition of making beaded velvet birds, lavishly decorating her pieces with thickly layered floral motifs in bright jewel tone beads. Along with several other women in the advanced beadwork classes at the Tuscarora Nation School, Dolly created a beaded floral iris motif Glengarry bonnet. This project had a special meaning for Dolly as her grandfather was a Tuscarora/Mohawk amateur boxer who wore a beaded hat into the ring.

Her exceptional work has been exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the McCord Museum in Quebec, the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center in Buffalo, the Yager Museum in Oneonta, New York, the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira, New York and the New York State Folk Lore Society in Schenectady, New York. Examples of Dolly’s beadwork can be found in the following New York State collections:

Additionally, Dolly gave an address titled “Beadwork: A Family Tradition” for the Iroquois Native American Study Program at Colgate University, Hamilton New York and she has won many awards for her outstanding work at area competitions. She has pieces included in both museum and private collections throughout the world.