Visions From Creator: Bonnie Crawler Smith, Nakoda Nation Bead Artist!

Posted By PowWows.com February 8th, 2015 Last Updated on: February 8th, 2015

Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor

Beadwork Artist, Bonnie (Crawler) Smith, Nakoda Nation!!!

Beadwork Artist, Bonnie (Crawler) Smith, Nakoda Nation!!!

DK: You're a truly talented artist! What does beadwork mean in your tribal traditions?

BS: Thank you. That's a difficult question because some beadwork designs come in a vision from the Creator. I was taught that the Creator will guide me through my beading. Plus, every color has a meaning. For example, blue can be used as a protection color for a man, as can deep red for a woman.

DK: Wow! So fascinating! What a lovely insight! Are there other tribal truths that come to light as you bead?

BS: I was also taught to do beading in fours. Fours because the life cycle goes in fours, the four seasons, the four directions, the four nations and the four times of the day.

DK: How refreshing that you are blending art and culture into each piece! What lessons have you learned from beading that apply to other areas of your life?

BS: Beading has provided me with the strength to be patient and to never quit. Nothing comes easy and with determination and strength, I can get through a tough situation and support others in their time of need. To not judge others, as it is not my place and that is up to The Creator. Passing judgment would mean that I think I am better than The Creator, and I am not in any way. Plus, the beadwork has also given me the opportunity to teach others this amazing gift.


DK: Sharing with others is the very most fun there is! Your talent is tremendous, so are you teaching others?

BS: I am in the process of teaching my boys, Jarren (age 13) and Chaz (age 10). They picked up a needle beginning in 2014.

DK: Isn't it thrilling to think of the next generation moving forward in beading! You're teaching them to create, but where can we see some of YOUR creations and even order some?

BS: I have a Facebook profile with a page set up at  [email protected] or you can email me at [email protected] to learn more about my beadwork!

DK: Your pieces are truly unique and I wonder, what are your favorite items to bead? Why?

BS: I love beading crosses, but it is hard to pick which would be my favorite pieces. I would have to say dancing outfits, because they have an array of designs and creativity. Plus, they challenge my beading creativity, whether it be spiritual or artistic.


DK: Artistic and spiritual elements certainly fill your beadwork! Who taught you how to bead?

BS: My Mother, Rosemarie Crawler, from the Nakoda Nation, Morley, Alberta, Canada. My mom provided me with the foundation of beading and as a result, I have developed the gift to be able to look at something new.

DK: Very insightful! How so?

BS: Approximately 20 years ago, I wanted to learn how to make a dreamcatcher. I sat down and looked at one and was able to figure out how it was made.

DK: Seems like you have a genuine creative gift! What let you know that this artistic gift was one that you wished to pursue?

BS: I knew at a very young age. I started beading at the age of nine just after my Great Grandfather George Crawler passed away. I remember him saying to me that I should learn about my cultures, as I was raised off the reserve. My mom taught my sister and I how to bead simple dangle earrings. As a result, I felt a strong connection with my Great Grandfather and with my culture. I could feel him smiling down from the heavens above.

DK: Beauteous! A delightful connection! Now that beading has brought you into closeness with your culture and with your ancestors, how would you encourage someone else who would like to begin to bead?

BS: I've heard that many times. I tell them that beading is healing and calms one's spirit. It is not easy, but if this is something you would like to do, then I think that you should. I also offer to help them, if they would like.

DK: Giving is a dynamic part of our Native values, so I think your generosity is admirable!

BS: They've also said that they can't do it and I reply that “you won't know unless you try.”

DK: Truth! Lifeways matter and we have to overcome any obstacles to learning them! So, why do you think it is important to pass down beading to the next generation?

BS: I think it is important because beadwork is one way that we tell our stories. Stories that are handed down from generation to generation. Plus, it is a way to show the world the beauty in the Aboriginal culture, such as traditional outfits and stories about our own personal lives.

DK: You are a lovely person and your beadwork is beautiful! Anything else you'd like to share with us?

BS: I would like to thank you, Dawn, and thank POWWOWS.COM for giving me this wonderful opportunity! I am honored. I picked up my first beading needle when I was nine. Beadwork is now in my spirit. Beadwork for me is spiritually healing and a lifestyle. I am blessed to have been given this amazing gift from The Creator. For those out there, whether they are a child , adult or elder, it is never too late to learn how to bead! It will fill your spirit with love, joy and happiness! From that strength, we can accomplish anything we desire!


Home » Native American Articles » Interviews » Visions From Creator: Bonnie Crawler Smith, Nakoda Nation Bead Artist!

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pat Lauer

Loved your interview and your beadwork do you have items for sale? I am on Facebook too

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow