Beadwork of the Metis

November 9th, 2013, 9pm

It was -5°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

As people of mixed ancestry they developed a new culture, neither European nor Aboriginal, but a fusion of the two and a new identity as Métis. The Métis of Red River were a very distinct and unique group of people. They were known for their artwork and, in particular, their beadwork. The Red River Métis were known for the flower patterns incorporated into their designs and even referred to as the flower people. Beadwork was a contributing factor in developing the Métis culture and in expressing their cultural distinctiveness. Many Métis women learned embroidery skills through the French Grey Nuns. These women incorporated the European floral designs into the traditional porcupine quill work. Through experimenting and incorporating different motifs, the Métis came up with a style of beadwork that was distinctly their own. This high quality of work allowed for Métis women to supplement household incomes at a time when the fur trade was coming to an end. They created unique beadwork designs that they sewed into clothing, knife cases, watch pockets, pouches, and bags. Each would have a flower design and most of the time that design was unique to individual families. The art and skill of bead working was passed along from mother to daughter.
Their creativity and ability to easily adapt to whatever situation they were faced with, shows the strength in their community and culture. I was able to find a picture that shows many of the different types of work they produced. The time that goes into making each piece fascinates me. I found it very interesting to learn that when making a piece with patterns that appears to match, one will have a small but distinct difference and this is the signature of the Métis people.

David Wade and Joanne said thanks.

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Shelley Werstroh

I live in The Pas, MB. I work as an Education Assistant and I am currently going to school full time to become a teacher. I am married and have 3 wonderful boys.

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