A member of the Miami (Myaamia) Tribe of Oklahoma, artist Katrina Mitten began beading at age 12 as a way to connect with her ancestors who were forced to assimilate during the era of Indian Removal. To learn the beadwork techniques of the Great Lakes region, she studied examples of Miami clothing and jewelry, as well as embroidery from the nearby Potawatomi and Ojibwe tribes. Her work is inspired by family stories, scenes from the natural environment, and contemporary issues affecting Native Americans.
“I felt deep down that I needed to do something physical and tangible that would identify me as a Native person … something that I could do to show other people ‘Yes, we are still here.’” - Katrina Mitten
Josey Cirullo has been learning beadwork embroidery from her grandmother, Katrina, for the past two years. She not only finds the process “soothing” and “quiet,” she also enjoys seeing others wear her finished pieces. This apprenticeship, according to Katrina, is a way to “bring back the link that has been broken in the chain.”