Horse tracks beaded pin (brooch); Horse head beaded pin (brooch)

Artist Unknown, possibly Plainfeather
Nation Apsáalooke (Crow)
Date 21st Century
Size top: 3.1 x 5.4 x 1.7 cm; bottom: 6.7 x 6.7 x 1 cm
Materialtop: Seed beads, thread, leather backing, brooch pin; bottom: Seed beads, thread, leather backing, brooch pin
top: Gifted by Maggie Carlson; bottom: Gifted by Putt and Jill Thomson

These beaded pins demonstrate some of the traditional historical designs, and the Crow colours of pale pink and pale blue. The squared-horseshoe shapes represent horse tracks.

Before contact with Europeans, many items of Plains clothing, bags, tools and ceremonial items were decorated with porcupine quills. Quillwork was a painstaking process involving soaking, dying, flattening, and applying the quills to animal hides. Once European beads became available, they were often used instead of quills, since they were faster to sew and came in an array of bright colours. However, the patterns and designs remained based on the same concepts. As with many traditional skills and creative endeavours, techniques were passed down to children from parents and grandparents.