When I was growing up, young girls who reached the age of 10 to 13 years old were taught how to sew. I first learn to sew through my mom at the age of 13, when I made my first uppers. Now, I make all sorts of art: mitts, gloves, uppers, mukluks, and slippers. You name it, I make it! I can create all sorts of styles as well, including beaded mukluks.
I remember feeling so proud the first time I made gloves and mitts. I especially love the process of putting them together. If I work by myself, I can make a pair of gloves in about 2 weeks. They are challenging to make because you have to be really precise with the measurements between the fingers. You also have to bead everything on all the pieces you’ll sew together in the end. When you start sewing these items, it can be really difficult at first, but it’s important to keep practicing to get used to it.
I started drawing my own patterns when I was about 15 years old. One time, my mom asked another woman to draw for her. We waited a week for the drawings, so I told my mom that I would start drawing so she wouldn’t have to wait next time. I practiced by drawing all kinds of flowers and then I was able to draw for my mother. Since then, I’ve been drawing for my own projects and for other people. It’s nice to challenge yourself. That’s why my mom also taught me how to do my own tanning. She told me how important it was for me to continue learning traditional activities because she said no one would be teaching me after our Elders pass on.
Making art makes me feel really good for that reason. I know many things that were taught to me by my parents and I want to pass it on to young girls, like my daughter and my granddaughter. It’s knowledge that I will have with me all my life, so I like to teach kids when I can, and share my knowledge with others who would like to learn. I visit schools now, to show the students how to sew, make dry fish and dry meat, and bake bannock. I like to work with kids, and I want to teach them how to sew because I think it’s important for Elders to teach the younger generations. It’s important to never give up, so I’ll keep feeling hopeful.