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Native heritage month brings traditional beading

On Nov. 14, Gayle Burns, a local Oaklander with Muscoge Creek ancestry, and two of her students, Alaskan Native Natalie Suan and Oakland resident with Blackfeet affiliation Tina Hodges, lead fourteen Mills women in the fundamentals of traditional beading.

Burns, Prevention Case Manager and a Native American Aids Project team member, has been beading and designing regalia for thirteen years, and began learning the craft when her granddaughters expressed their interest in having a traditional coming-out dance at the next pow wow.

Both Burns and Hodges carry the discipline and patience that beading instills in its crafters.

“It brings me peace of mind,” Hodges said.

Hodges has been a student of Burns’ for just under a year, when her mother became interested in the craft herself.

Suan has been Burns’ student for five years. Her crafted works depict her tribal emblem and exhibit her strong ties to her Native Alaskan heritage.

Hayley Mistler, a Mills freshwoman, was drawn to beading from the exposure she had through her greatgrandmother. Mariah Taylor, a Mills junior and Biology major, found the experience enjoyable. When asked if they would continue with the craft, Mistler said with a smile that she hoped to.

Mills students will have a second chance to learn this craft Nov. 27.

Gayle Burns’ rosettes, beaded to match the colors of her traditional regalia, draw meaning and symbolism from the tribal lands in Georgia, including the talons of hawks. (All photos by Jade Jones-Hawk)
Tina Hodges, Burns’ student for a year, answers questions about beading from first year Mills students.
Gayle Burns, a local Oaklander and a member of the Muscoge Creek, has been beading for thirteen years.
Students draw inspiration from different styles of beading