March 10th, 2015 Last Updated on: March 10th, 2015
Alesha Goodwin (Nibiikwe) is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Northern Minnesota. She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her Beyond Beautiful Beaded Creations and Supplies represents the dedication, high standards and alacrity that makes this Native business outstanding!
DK: Such stunning beadwork! Please share with us…What does beadwork mean in your tribe's traditions?
AG: Thank you, I really appreciate the compliment. In my opinion, Dawn, beadwork in my tribe, the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe tribe is a way for us to connect with our ancestral history. It’s a way to show off our talents and skilled artistry, especially during powwows where beadwork is adorned on dancers who proudly wear it. We take much pride in what we create and it shows in our beadwork.
DK: Do you have a specific style within your tribal nation?
AG: Woodlands style beadwork is our traditional style of beadwork. It consists of very traditional colors, black, greens, turquoise, reds etc… and many floral patterns. Beading gives us a sense of separation from the fast pace of modern day society, even though some of beadwork isn’t in traditional form and is more modern. It brings us back to the old ways. Beading has been a form of artwork for my people for many years, nothing has really changed about it, besides incorporating gems and such into it, yet the world around us is ever changing.
AG: Patience! Honestly, it has been the most beneficial lesson that I have learned from throughout my time beading. I learned that the patience it takes to create beadwork has truly effected the way I react to things in my life. You can’t rush perfection, or near perfection rushing through things. This not only applies to beading for me. It applies to the way I live on a daily basis, especially taking care of and teaching an inquisitive 19 month old baby girl.
DK: That's a very profound way to look at it! Where can we see more of your creations or even order some?
AG: I have a page on Facebook where my beadwork and other crafts can be found. It’s called: Beyond Beautiful Beaded Creations and Supplies. It’s a little long winded so I like to tell people BBB Creations for short. But when searching for it, use the full name. I’m also open to accepting new friends on my personal Facebook page if you search for my name. I also auction off beading supplies and such along with a group of amazing ladies on a Facebook page that I am a part of called Glitterati Auction Block, it’s also Native American owned and run. Everybody who posts auctions are Native. Anyone who is in need of supplies and beadwork should check it out!
DK: Great! Natives supporting Natives! We're all about that here! Do you have a favorite type of beading that you do?
AG: I love all types of beading, Dawn, but I would have to say that beading medallions and earrings are my favorite things to create. I like medallions because they are more of a challenge to bead. They’re typically larger than earrings, and there is a lot of time, focus, and patience that go into beading medallions. I also really like that I am able to bead more visible detail when beading medallions. Not to mention, medallions are kind of my comfort zone, the first thing I had ever beaded was a medallion.
DK: Tremendous talent! Do you have a specialty?
AG: Earrings are just really fun to make. Making earrings is when my creative juices really start flowing. Beading earrings, for me, is totally different than beading medallions. Although I love beading medallions, beading earrings is less of following the lines and patterns that I draw out unlike medallions, and more of just going with the flow at that moment; I just start with a few beads, which turns into a few rows, and an earring is created! Earrings are also worn and showed off more often than medallions because they are essential for woman’s daily attire. Of course, there is more to it than just that, but that is basically the gist of it for me. For anyone reading this, I suggest learning to bead if you already haven’t, since it’s such a great outlet for many reasons.
DK: Who taught you how to bead?
AG: I taught myself how to bead, Dawn. There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. Lots of poking my fingers with the needles, thread tangles like you wouldn’t believe, and many times having to rip apart what took me hours to do because I found a better way than the last. I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to learn from neither my grandmother nor father whom were both beaders as they both passed when I was younger. I was too young to have an interest in beading, and regretfully when I had become interested in learning it was already too late. I honestly wish I would’ve been more interested in learning as a child from both of them, I would have so much time and experience under my belt. I do know that when I bead I feel them both beside me, proud of the work that I create. When I finish a project I imagine how proud both of them are to see that I, solely am keeping the beading tradition alive in my immediate family.
DK:A brilliant legacy! Family traditions are so valuable to us as Natives!
AG: I knew that beading was what I wanted to do when I created my first piece around two years ago. I had unexpectedly inherited storage drawers (and old cookie tins) full of beads of all sorts, antiques, seed, bugles and other goodies that were once my grandmothers. I was so honored to be given the drawers from my uncle who’d kept them since her passing, even though I was clueless as how to use them. I experimented, used some of the old thread, beads, and needles, which by the way are no comparison to needles nowadays, they are sturdy and almost unbendable and unbreakable, and made my first medallion. I really was impressed by the outcome, so much so that it instantly became my new favorite thing in more ways than one.
DK: YES! I think a lot of us Native beaders know that feeling!
AG: I think the things that I absolutely love the most about beading is the spiritual connection I feel during, not only to my grandmother and father, but to those before me who adopted the tradition of beading. To think that someone, long ago was sitting just as I with a needle and thread, applying bead by bead to accentuate and beautify the already existing beautiful human that is a Native American is really quite a nostalgic feeling I must say. I imagine their trial and errors, and the time it must’ve taken them to create a piece using sinew and hides. It’s an awesome thought that I can experience something so culturally relevant just through beads! I also get pure joy when seeing people proudly wear what I’ve made them. These are the reasons I bead.
DK: Your words are so lovely and so are the insights in them! What would you say to someone who wants to start beading? Why do you think it's important to pass beading down to the next generation?
AG: I would definitely tell them to learn, not to hesitate, and just dive right in. If you’re scared that you won’t do well, or if you think you don’t have it in you, forget all of that. Practice makes perfect, well near perfect because nothing is as perfect than the creator’s creations, but with time and practice you will get the hang of it. It’s relaxing, and a great way to take your mind of things. As a creative outlet beading is unlike any other. It’s also important to learn because it’s a part of who we are, a part of our ongoing traditions as indigenous people. Our regalia is our pride and joy, we wear it with honor, representing who we are, and our beauty in colors and patterns. Without beadwork, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s important to teach the next generation the tradition of beading enable to keep it a tradition. Natives are struggling to keep our culture thriving, alive, and full of tradition in this day and age, keeping beadwork as one of those traditions that are kept alive separates us from the rest of the world, if that makes sense.
DK: You are a lovely person and your beadwork is beautiful! Anything else you'd like to share with us? Thanks for visiting with us!
AG:Thank you, again, Dawn. You are quite the lovely person as well! I would just like to thank you for the opportunity to share my story and my love of beadwork, as well as thank the readers for taking time out to read my story and share my experiences and thoughts. I really suggest to you all reading, if you have an interest, or would like any tips or hints to feel free to send me a message, or even if you’re interested in purchasing or owning any of my beadwork to check out my FACEBOOK page, Beyond Beautiful Beaded Creations and Supplies and contact me there!
AG: Miigwech, (thank you) to you all, again for reading!
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