Bead Artisan

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Chickasaw bead artist Steve Adamietz sees his art as "a bridge back to the past," using beadwork techniques and motifs that have been passed down by Chickasaws through the generations. His original patterns often depict animals such as the red wolf, whose extinction in its southeastern habitat is meant to reflect the fate of the Native peoples who were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. Adamietz regards every bead that he lays down as a prayer, and he intentionally inserts a "spirit bead" of a varying color into each of his artworks. He says that this intentional flaw is a gesture to the Creator, acknowledging that only He is perfect. The beadwork portraits that Adamietz creates start in the middle and radiate outwards in a circular pattern. One of his works in progress is based on an Old Mississippian emblem of a palm surrounded by two tie-snakes or horned serpents. He says that his creations are meant to be grasped by those who are familiar with the traditional Chickasaw stories, and making them is his contribution to tribal life and keeping the ancient practices alive.