Printer Friendly Version

Art of the Apsaalooka

Typical bead colors and designs in Apsaalooka work

Spot-stitched beads lie flat and smooth.

White outlining makes the design on this forehead ornament stand out from the yellow background.

key idea
Traditions through Time

The Apsaalooka decorate clothing and everyday objects and also their horses’ tack and trappings with beautiful beadwork. Traditional beadwork is done only by women, who have passed down their skill and knowledge through many generations.

The geometric patterns, color combinations, and beading techniques used by the Apsaalooka give their work a unique style that sets it apart from beadwork by other Plains tribes. The Apsaalooka are known for choosing shapes such as the triangle and using pink, light blue, and green beads. They are also famous for creating beaded white outlines that make their designs look three-dimensional.

Apsaalooka women use a technique called “spot-stitch.” Working on fabric or leather, they use two threaded needles. They string one thread with several beads and lay it in position on the cloth or hide. With the other, they stitch the beaded thread in place. Stitches are made at even intervals, every few beads. The result is a beaded surface so smooth you can’t tell where the beads are attached. This technique is also good for creating large areas of solid beadwork.

September 2007