Cultural art of beading promoted in area by Utah instructor

By Ken Luchterhand

Recently, the cultural art of beading got a boost within the Ho-Chunk community.
Cheryl Lone Bear, beading instructor and owner of Native Cloudz in Fort Duchesne, Utah, came to the area to teach the six-week beading workshop.
She provided an in-depth beading workshop two evenings a week for four weeks during September at the Mission Community Center in Black River Falls.
Angela Ward of the Ho-Chunk Nation Labor Department arranged the workshop.
“It was just an opportunity for anyone who wanted to learn but didn’t know who to ask,” Ward said. “It seems today many who have a skill do not teach it unless there is a monetary value added. I just wanted to provide an opportunity for the ones who can’t afford to pay to learn something like beading.”
During the class, the young women learned three different styles of beading. For their first assignment, they all had to make beaded earrings.
To teach her course, they all followed a handout booklet, which she referred to as “The Beading Bible,” something she wrote to provide a permanent guide for the craft
The first lessons involve classroom work, understanding the concepts, paper patterns, and the color wheel before beginning the actual beading.
Moving past that stage, the students learn basic stitches of tying the string with bead and then apply them to their work.
As they advance, they learn designs that are more intricate and even incorporate other media into the designs.
She sees the number of people working with beads on the decline.
“We have some beaders on our reservation, but it seems like the number of beaders here are very few,” she said. “I like to promote our youth in the cultural forms of art.”
Lone Bear works with the Painted Horse Diabetes Program at her home reservation, which provides the beads. She’s a member of the Ute tribe, which has sponsored her efforts and provided a lot of the supplies.
She believes beading is a type of meditation that can benefit everyone, regardless of gender or age.
Sometimes working with beads requires a stable hand and good eyesight to see those tiny beads and needles. But even those people with not-so-great eyesight and unsteady hands can be good at beading, if the proper accommodations are provided, she said. Larger beads and larger needles are available, allowing people to do what they normally couldn’t.
Because beading is relaxing and therapeutic, it can help stabilize lives that are in turmoil.
“I come from a reservation where drugs, alcohol, suicide and grief are rampant. We battle it all the time,” Lone Bear said. “We have lost a lot of kids to suicide. So, with beading, we are saying ‘live to your culture.’”
She works a lot with alcohol and drug programs, also with schools and education programs.
Lone Bear offers the beading classes with no personal compensation. The materials are provided by donations from tribes and native organizations.
“I do it selflessly to preserve our culture,” she said.