Beading, recovered: Presley Mills, Justine Woods, ‘Beading Is Medicine: Beading as Therapeutic and Decolonial Practice’, in Roberto Filippello, Ilya Parkins (eds), Fashion and Feeling: The Affective Politics of Dress, Palgrave, 2013, pp. 21-36


Abstract: Beading is an important pathway for Indigenous peoples to restore, revitalize, and reclaim ancestral practices and community connections destroyed by colonization. As a decolonial practice, beadwork mobilizes Indigenous knowledge transmission and is intrinsically tied to the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of Indigenous peoples. Research colleagues and friends Justine Woods and Presley Mills met at the first Beading Circle hosted at Toronto Metropolitan University in the winter of 2019. Gathered around a table, the first teaching Woods shared with the group was to only bead while in a positive and calm mindset as the beads take in our energy and, with each stitch, become embedded with our intentions. Using beadworking as a method of inquiry, Woods and Mills hosted three beading circles in the fall of 2021 with four collaborators from the beadwork community to consider the ways beading is a therapeutic and decolonial practice. Through exploratory discussion, the group answered questions such as: Amidst ongoing settler colonialism, how can beadwork restore and repair your relationship to community, identity and ancestral lands? How does beading impact you emotionally? How does practicing beadwork contribute to individual and collective efforts of decolonization? In this chapter, Woods and Mills discuss how beadwork fosters a common thread within community, the power of beadwork as a conduit of decolonial space, and beadwork’s relationship to Fashion and how beading was medicine during the Covid-19 pandemic.

%d bloggers like this: