Special Exhibit on Native American Beadwork


BEAD – definition: A small, often round piece of material that is pierced for stringing or threading. The native people of North America have used beadwork as an artistic medium in a tradition of adornment since for thousands of year. Beadwork, used on common, sacred and ceremonial objects alike, attracts the admiration of people both inside and outside of native culture. As settlement of Wichita began in the 1860s, many pioneers learned about these artifacts and began actively collecting beadwork, appreciating its beauty and significance as a vestige of a vanishing time and culture.

The origin and history of a beaded object can be identified through its construction, the type of bead used, and the technique by which the bead is attached. The earliest beaded objects used shell, horn, bone, teeth, quills, stones, seeds, and ceramic materials. Later in the 19th century, as contact with Europe became established, trade provided North Americans with smaller glass “seed beads” imported from Czechoslovakia and Italy in a wide variety of colors.


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