Instagram | @kooteencreations

Indigenous Artists Across North America Are Joining Forces To Bead Their Provinces And States

Beadwork is a longstanding tradition in many Indigenous cultures. It's not simply a crafty hobby for many modern beadworkers—it's an important and significant way to preserve traditions and further connect with their culture and roots.

One Indigenous artist came up with a creative project to get other beadwork artists to connect to their culture and roots further.

Back in early April in the thick of quarantine measures, CeeJay Johnson, a Dakota and Tlingit artist of Kooten Creations, sent out a call to action to other Indigenous beadworkers across North America.

Instagram | @kooteencreations

After having beaded her own state, Alaska, she had a great idea.

"Bead your state in your style so I can include it in this map!," she wrote in the post, later adding Canada.

With the hashtag #beadyourstate and #beadyourprovince, many talented artists have delivered stunning designs.

Instagram | @kooteencreations

I mean, just look at this submission by Nancy Brown-Garcia from Mishowomet band of Narragansett Indian Tribe in Rhode Island.

Many of the designs connect and honor cultures, fusing the traditional with the modern.

Instagram | @kooteencreations

For example, this Wisconsin design by Annalei Borkowski of MĂ©tis Descent fuses the tradition of beadwork with the state's football team.

DeeJay hopes this project helps inspire other beadworkers out there who don't know where to begin.

Instagram | @kooteencreations

"Sometimes I put out designs, and I thought the state thing would be cool since everyone is in self-isolation or quarantine. It will give people a chance to be artistic, practice some culture, but also be a part of something larger than their couch," she told CBC reporter Jessica Deer.

Together, the designs, colours, and textures come together to reimagine North America's borders in a new vibrant way, all the while working to reclaim Indigenous culture.

Instagram | @kooteencreations

This is what the map looks like so far, and it might be the most gorgeous map we've seen of the continent yet.

Be sure to head to DeeJay's Instagram page to view the map's progress and search the hashtag #beadyourstate and #beadyourprovince to see more.

And if you're an Indigenous artist, definitely create your own and submit your finished product!

h/t: CBC