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American Indians of ND: Quillwork or Beadwork Activities

Quillwork or Beadwork Activities

Designs, color choices, and arrangement of patterns were used by the Plains Indians to distinguish themselves from other tribes. Glass beads replaced quills after trading with the white man was introduced. Dakota people used a lot of red horizontal lines; Yanktonai Dakota people favored more floral and geometric patterns; the Sisseton and Santee Dakota preferred mainly floral patterns. Yellow was a favorite color used in Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara quillwork.

  1. Soak rice in different colors of food coloring for several hours.
  2. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Have students conduct research and draw or copy a design used by one of the North Dakota tribes.
  4. Have students glue the rice on a heavy piece of paper to replicate quillwork or beadwork done by the various tribes of North Dakota.
  5. Have students label what tribe used the chosen design and its significance, if known.