Northern Paiute’s beadwork keeps heritage alive – Great Basin Native Artists series, part seven
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Linda Eben-Jones, grew up watching her grandmother, Dollie Davis Moose, and her mother, Marlene Moose, do traditional beadwork along with their knitting and sewing.
“I’ve always been fascinated with beadwork,” she said. “I’ve watched beaders for as long as I could remember.”
While she picked up on sewing, Eben-Jones found it impossible to master beadwork.
“I was in a high stress job in personnel management and could not dedicate myself to beading. With all the turmoil of life, I just couldn’t apply myself,” Eben-Jones recalled. “I learned how to sew first, which made it easier for me be begin beading.”
Since retiring in 2005, she has immersed herself in the traditional art. She started by working with her sister, Janice, who was attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
“We would get together on Sundays and bead medicine bags,” Eben-Jones said. “I began beading these bags until I learned different stitch and beading patterns.”
Her beading work is featured as part of the Great Basin Native Artists show on display at the Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority, 716 N. Carson St.
It is the second set of artists to show in the gallery and will remain through Nov. 23.
A Northern Paiute who grew up at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Eben-Jones graduated from the Stewart Indian School in 1966.
Growing up, she learned some of the traditional ways of her people, such as gathering pine nuts and picking wild asparagus.She also learned the Native dances.
“When I started to seriously dance traditional, I had a coming out at the Stewart Awakening powwow in 1985,” she recalled. “I began my journey in the powwow circle.”
She dedicated her first powwow to her father, Tellivan Eben.
“I asked my dad at that time to support me in this decision,” she said. “When I started dancing, it was to pray for my father who was seriously ill with cancer.”
Over the years, she continued to dance, buying her regalia. However, as she has progressed in her beadwork, she’s also made her own regalia as well as regalia for her grandson’s grass dance outfit, her daughter’s dress and beadwork and various types of pouches and bags.
“When I was buying beadwork, I was never satisfied with it,” Eben-Jones said. “I was inspired to start making my own stuff. It’s more personal and meaningful now. That’s when Ireally connected knowing who I am and how I want my beadwork to reflect my tribe.”
Her interest has extended beyond her tribe as well.
“I really became interested in indigenous studies while attending the Institute of American Indian Arts where I expanded my knowledge of native studies beyond the Great Basin,” she said. “I have learned about all indigenous peoples of the world.”
She said she would like to see schools include more American Indian history, especially about Great Basin tribes, where written information is sorely lacking.
Eben-Jones said during her education, she only heard Native Americans referenced as “savages.”
She’s hoping her artwork will help add to the breadth of artifacts keeping alive her heritage for her tribe and for her family.
“That is my gift when I leave the Earth,” she said.