• top frame 
  • Beadwork detail
  • Magnifying Glass

Detail of woman doing beadwork, 1990.
NWT Archives/G-1995-001: 3362

  • top frame 
  • Beadwork techniques a.) couching; b.) zipper edging
  • Magnifying Glass

Beadwork techniques
a.) couching; b.) zipper edging
© Kate C. Duncan

Stepping into Womanhood


Before contact with Europeans, Athapaskans decorated footwear with porcupine quills and with red ochre paint. Bright, colourful glass beads brought in by the earliest traders were immediately popular and highly coveted. Although initially used to create traditional geometric motifs, by the late 19th century, glass beads were being used for the new, floral decorative art. The most common technique used for decorating footwear was “couched” beading, where a string of beads were fixed down by tiny stitches between every second or third bead.