Taking a Beading in the Nation’s Capital

It has been a very busy few weeks. I went to the protest to support efforts to investigate the hundreds of missing Native women in Canada and the US, in particular those near the highway of tears. There was also a Free Leonard Peltier portion of this event. Of course, even though these groups had a permit, it didn’t stop officials from interrupting it to bring in the national Christmas Tree.  So, at a protest for missing women and a jailed activist, half the group was trapped and a big group of us was lost for a while!  But, it was still a good day.

I attended the White House Screening, “Across The Creek” featuring the Lakota people, past and present, showing the struggles, the youth, the elders, the importance of the language and how to reclaim our identity and culture.  Then there is my job, which, to be honest, can be very stressful as we are understaffed for very important activities. I am also training everyday for my next running event, 5-15 miles a day, depending upon my training schedule. Lastly, my mom was visiting from South Dakota and I just loved having her around. But, it all adds up!

One can get very disconnected very quickly in a big city. As you can imagine, being part of one of the least represented groups in the United States, it can be fairly isolating, especially in a town where every group imaginable is vying for attention, recognition, and resources.

So, what is a Native woman in DC to do to wind down? Beading. There is a group of young Native women that I hang with.  We are all in our twenties/thirties, from several different nations, and here in DC trying to make a difference for our people. We get together, talk about everything, laugh, and bead.

Like in life, we all came into this having learned different styles of beading depending upon our backgrounds and we got here at different levels of proficiency. We have different designs we like and colors that speak to us. A few of us are from the rez, a few of us are not. We are enriched by our differences and comforted by our commonalities. We bead. We talk, we laugh, we share. We develop strategies for dealing with surprisingly similar stressors. Sometimes we cry…but mostly that is because we stabbed our needles into our fingers while laughing! Together, we are a dynamic and supportive tiospaye!

I wonder if that is how beading used to be: Women getting together and socializing. Connecting with each other, learning from each other, strengthening each other…and their cultures. I wonder if cable TV, lack of resources, and the stresses of modern life have taken precedence over connecting with each other. I wonder why only the elders do it back home. I get so much from these little get togethers.

It is that time of year. The time of year when we count our blessings, reflect on our lives, and appreciate those around us. It also a time of year when we have a good excuse to get together and start things for the next year. Think about how your culture, and the people around you, can work together to make you a better, happier, and kinder person. Then appreciate it. I don’t know what I would do without my urban tiospaye! Pilamaya!

So, ladies, the next time you are feeling stressed, lonely, or over whelmed Just Bead It (sorry Michael Jackson reference… it was too easy)! In my mind, I think that is one way we have always worked together, and one great example of how relevant our cultural practices are to modern life. One, of many…


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