Despite growing up in a family of beaders in Northern Saskatchewan, Donna Peeteetuce says she “just ran by” whenever she saw her mother and grandmother pull out the beads. Sadly, her mom walked on at a young age, leaving her without a guide into the world of beaded art.
That changed when Peeteetuce (Beardy’s & Okemasis Cree Nation) purchased a lanyard at the yearly pow wow and Indian National Finals Rodeo-sanctioned event at the Tsuu T’ina Reserve in Alberta. At a women's conference back home in Saskatchewan, “A lady saw my lanyard and asked me if I made it.” After Peeteetuce confessed that she hadn’t, the woman said, “Would you like to learn how to make them?’”
A short time later, this woman started instructing Peeteetuce in the peyote stitch—and so much more. “The lady asked me, ‘Are there any dreams you want me to interpret?’” This kindly woman was a dream interpreter, and Peeteetuce confessed that she had a couple of dreams that had been troubling her. “I told her about my dream, and she explained that I had two spirit animals, the wolf and the bear.” The next thing the dream interpreter told Peeteetuce was even more profound.
“I saw my mom in a rundown old house that the wolf and bear chased me to,” Peeteetuce says. “My mom was happy and healthy, but the house was in bad shape.” The falling-down structure: Peeteetuce’s spirit house. “I learned that I had to make changes in my life—so I changed my life around.”
Peeteetuce continued to learn beadwork techniques from the dream interpreter while she found her own style. Starting with lanyards, she moved on to exquisite earrings that sparkle with movement. She started selling her work at rodeos, where she would simply pass a bag with items in it down the row in the bleachers. “People would ask, ‘How much?’ I would tell them and they’d drop money into the bag.” Peeteetuce also would walk among the stalls bearing her wares, as most cowgirls and cowboys don’t stick around after the rodeos are over.
Now she also sells at conferences, and recently started getting into online sales, using Instagram and a trading post site, all while raising her 1-year-old son, Joshua.
“My favorite things to make are still lanyards,” she says. “If I hadn’t bought that lanyard, and been approached from the dream interpreter, who knows how my life would have turned out…and it was all connected to beading.”
Reach Peeteetuce on Instagram at skydon77, or email her at email@example.com.