A beadworker and member of the Miami (Myaamia) tribe of Oklahoma, Katrina Mitten comes from one of five families allowed to remain after the era of Indian Removal. She began learning traditional beadwork styles at age twelve by studying pieces in her home and at museums. Her granddaughter and apprentice, seven-year-old Saiyah Miller, wants to “learn to do what Grandma does,” so after school she heads to Katrina’s house to learn the traditional arts of their culture.
Katrina draws inspiration from the patterning of Great Lakes and Miami beadwork embroidery and “nature itself–whether it’s a painting, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional” artwork. “Everything art-wise is inspired by what The Creator gave us,” Katrina says. “I always repeat to Saiyah ‘we don’t try to recreate something The Creator did’, but we can put our best expression forward.” This time together encourages Saiyah to connect with the stories of her family while expressing her own creativity. As a result of this apprenticeship, Saiyah will participate in her first art show at the Miami Nation Powwow in Miami, Oklahoma.