Beads: Indigenous Beadwork of the Great Basin

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Exhibition debuts in the newly opened Great Basin Native Artists Gallery

Linda Eben Jones

Linda Eben Jones (Northern Paiute), “Quail with Yellow Flowers,” 2020, glass beads, canvas duck. All images courtesy of the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum.

Carson City, NV — Contemporary and historical Indigenous artists exhibit an exceptional array of beadwork at the new Great Basin Native Artists Gallery inside the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum (SISCCM) in Carson City, Nevada. Artists include Stewart alumni from the 1920s to the present and members of the Great Basin Native Artists from the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes.

Some of the works displayed in the exhibit come from the SISCCM’s permanent collection, donated pieces from the Native community, and ephemera including press clipping Indigenous Great Basin artists premiering in top fashion magazines and art exhibitions around the globe. The late Burton Pete, a Stewart School alumnus, was a master cultural artist who made everything from dance regalia to baby carriers. Best known for his pictorial beadwork, Pete stitched one bead at a time onto deer hide, and his largest beaded landscape featured more than 75,000 seed beads.

Burton Pete Great Basin Native Artists

Pictorial beadwork by Burton Pete (Northern Paiute, 1941–2008). 

Beaded bottles by Esther Moore Davis (Northern Paiute, ca. 1908–1993), private collection.

“Great Basin Native Artists is so honored to be able to have this beautiful space to exhibit our artwork and share with our community these American artists unique to this area of Nevada. There is so much more where this came from!” says Great Basin Native Artists Gallery curator Melissa Melero-Moose (Northern Paiute/Modoc).

While glass beads were introduced from Europe and Asia, Great Basin artists have completely adopted them to tell Native stories. Local Native artists also became known for their skills in beading three-dimensional objects, from bottles to baskets.

Stewart Indian School was a US government residential boarding school for Washoe, Paiute, and Shoshone children that operated from 1890 and 1980. The cultural center and museum seek to tell the stories of these students and celebrate the cultural resiliency of their tribes today.

Visitors are encouraged to experience this one-of-a-kind art exhibition and the permanent exhibitions that showcase the rich culture of our Indigenous peoples of Nevada and the larger Great Basin.

Great Basin Native Artists Gallery, Stewart Indian School

Great Basin Native Artists Gallery, Stewart Indian School. Photo: © Vance Fox, Reno, Nevada.

On view now through October 22, 2021

Great Basin Native Artists Gallery
Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum (SISCCM)
1 Jacobsen Way
Carson City, Nevada 89701
(775) 687-7608 | email

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3 Comments

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    JANET DAVIS on

    I was very happy to see a picture of my grandmother Esther Moore Davis’ beaded bottles in this article. Thanks for sharing !

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