100 Horses: An Equine History in Bead Work

Plateau bead work from the Fred L. Mitchell Collection 

September 2 – December 1, 2023 at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute

Appaloosa with birds. Contour-Beaded Bag, c. 1900. On loan from the Fred L. Mitchell Collection.

There’s a treat happening right now at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute — an exhibit of Plateau beadwork from the Fred L. Mitchell Collection around the theme of horses. There are pieces on loan from Maryhill Museum as well, and additional pieces loaned by local Tribal members and Tamástslikt Cultural Institute permanent collections. Horse-themed basketry rounds out the exhibit.

So many beads. Vests, gauntlets, bags, horse collars, and more. Some people were marveling at the sheer number of beads, but I couldn’t help but think about the hours of skill and attention. Beading was historically women’s work in Plateau societies. That exhibit alone is the fruit of thousands of hours of attention and conversation.

Melton has taken a brilliantly minimalist approach to the display, mounting most of the pieces on the wall behind a floating piece of plexiglass, allowing the visitor to get extremely close to the object. Gauntlets and vests are more traditionally displayed, in freestanding cases. You don’t want to miss this one.

Beaded Gauntlets. c. 1930.

Donated by Florence Burnette Pieper

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