Made of Thunder Exhibit Beadwork

Early Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) souvenir bags – group 1. Early Haudenosaunee Bags Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) beaded bags – 1830s -1840s. Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) beaded bags with a heart motif.
Pictographic or figurative beaded bags. Scalloped Edge Bags Caroline Parker Bags Niagara Style Bags
Transition to Niagara Type Bag Glengarry Style Hats Moosehair Beaded Bags Wabanaki Style Bags
Maliseet Style Hat Mi'kmaq Style Cap Early Mi'kmaq Beaded Bags Mohawk Type Bags

It wasn’t so long ago that scholars considered souvenir or tourist beadwork as a form of cultural corruption; a vogue item to be sold to outsider and as such, it was not recognized as an authentic manifestation of indigenous art. The problem with this view is that it ignored the role this beadwork played as a vehicle for both economic survival and cultural continuity. Since the 1970s, the disparaging attitude of professionals has changed. Today, this work is recognized as a legitimate representation of Native “worldviews.”  For Native people, this beadwork became a means of subsistence during the period when their economy and socio-political power were at their lowest ebb.  For most, the choice was assimilation or extermination. This artwork was not a cultural betrayal but rather a strategy to ensure cultural survival.

Click on any of thumbnails to see a sampling of the exquisite beadwork that was made by these artists and displayed in the Made of Thunder exhibit.