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Ashlee Dondero, Big Pine and Mono Lake Paiute Beader!

Posted By PowWows.com August 31st, 2015 Last Updated on: January 20th, 2016

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Beadwork makes Powwow regalia distinct and recognizable. Dancers carefully choose the colors and designs that will distinguish them in the Circle. Vendors spend whole seasons beading in order to sell their art on the Powwow Trail. Ashleee Dondero shares her perspective on beading, drawn from her Big Pine and Mono Lake Paiute heritage!

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Q) Big Pine and Mono Lake Paiute, right? Your people sure have some beautiful ways! What are some of the cultural traditions that you intersperse into your own life and work?

A) Thank you, Traditionally, our women made beaded collars for our ribbon dresses we wore during celebrations or gatherings. As far as I know, the Paiute people were known for their basket weaving. I do incorporate designs from my great great grandmother's basket work into my beadwork.

Q) Our ancestors are so precious! Beading, weaving, dancing, making regalia all take patience. Do you think that patience is a virtue that is vanishing really rapidly in modern times!
A) I have learned to be very patient when it comes to beading and also it has helped me raise my three children. Patience is a must when raising children and also is very helpful in everyday life. It keeps my stress levels down, that's for sure. I've come to appreciate the little things more. I've learned to  value when people do things for me, because I know what it entails to put thought and time into something or someone, just from working with my beads.

Q) Such a wise outlook on life! Do you learn life lessons from the other art that you do?

A)  Gosh I don't know if I have any other talents. I love drawing and using pastels to make artwork. I'm very critical of my work so not a lot have seen those.

Q) Well, where can we see the work that you like to share?

A) Right on Facebook, is where some of my work is shown and I am in the process of setting up an account on Etsy for a wider range of customers.  My email for any interested in my work now is [email protected]

Q) Do you have favorite techniques?
A) I love doing loom work. My nephews and my son are little cowboys and are always asking for new hat bands and bracelets.

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My other favorite are small hair pieces for my niece and two daughters. They are divas so they have to have the shiny duds.

Q) Awww, just cute! How do you feel when you bead? When someone enjoys what you bead?

A) Beading is a creative outlet for me and I love seeing something come together, my vision of something that I can actually touch makes Beading very rewarding for me.

Q) How did you first start beading?

A) My mother taught me how to bead. She learned from her friend, who is of the Kiowa people. At first, I didn't like beading. I was 7 when my mom first taught me how to do loom beading. I was very impatient, so I didn't like it. As I got older and wanted to make things for myself , I enjoyed it more.

Q) There's that patience we talked about earlier! How did patience change your feeling towards beading?

A) What really showed that it was something I love to do was the way my family's faces would light up when I would make gifts for them. My children especially love getting beaded projects from me.

Q) Now that you have increased your patience and learned to love beading, how do you plan to pass beading on to the next generation?

It is very important to pass down any thing traditional. We come from a long line of people who fought to keep our traditions and culture alive. The least we can do now is to keep it going and our traditions and culture are what make us who we are as Native people.

Q) Beading is such a vital part of powwow culture. Regalia, medallions, giveaway gifts and vendor crafts all include beading. What do you think beaders on powwow highway should know?

A)  A)  I always encourage beading when others ask about learning how to bead. No matter how long it takes you to finish a project make sure you finish it, be patient and the end result is well worth the time put in.

Q) Many thanks for your time!

A) Thank you for giving me this opportunity.


Home » Native American Articles » Native American Art » Ashlee Dondero, Big Pine and Mono Lake Paiute Beader!


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