Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mesquakie Bead Trading

The land that interested the Inspirationists upon their arrival in the Iowa River Valley was once fertile land that the Mesquakie Nation once had claim to but that claim expired in 1843 so there was no problem with conflict.  The Mesquakie people would visit or come to set up camp to harvest edible tubers of the American lotus on the area Lily Lake. They knew the land of 26,00 acres well as they used to hunt there in the 1840's later trading game and pelts for medical care and fine Amana woolens. West was the first Amana Village they would visit from Tama. Trades for fresh bread, flour, and grains were made with beads. Sometimes they traded items they made as bead trimmed pin cushions or coin purses of woven beads both transparent ( trade use) and opaque beads (tribal use). Historically the Plains Indians favored beads which were ready made trade goods that they used to decorate everyday and ceremonial objects, using thousands of pony and seed beads and quills for their complex tasks. (1830's). Later in the 1850's only beads and ribbon decorated objects. Until 1900 most bead designs were abstract and geometric- elegant, precise, and beautifully unified and colored, influenced by European designs and beads. The Mesquakie enjoyed a good relationship with German, Amana ancestors. My friend's aunt traded flour for a beautiful, zippered coin purse with a bead-colored, geometric design of diamond shapes on a white background of opaque beads! That flour must have been very important to the Meaquakie that day.

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