"Funded by Native Arts New England, a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the Ford Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and Anonymous donors"
beaded detachable cuffs for coat
Through the centuries there was a cross cultural exchange of clothing between whites and Indians. From European linen trade shirts decorated with wampum and silver, to gentlemen’s coats and military coats decorated extensively with fine beadwork and ribbonwork, referred to as “Chief’s” coats, Native peoples have taken these articles of clothing and made them uniquely their own. Silk ribbonwork and beadwork not only decorated the clothing, but symbolically represented identity and tribal affiliation. “Chief’s” coats included heavily beaded lapels, borders, and detachable collars and cuffs, all with ribbonwork.
this is not a reproduction of an old coat, but much like the purses I create, it incorporates the feel and spirit of old designs into something new and relevant to this generation and generations yet to come.
This coat symbolizes the unification of the Wabanaki people and expresses the honor and love shared for Elders (who in years past, might have been referred to as “Chiefs”). Since this coat represents all the 5 tribes, any Wabanaki Elder may wear it, and the loose, wrap style cut is easy fitting so either sex will be equally comfortable. An all-encompassing, all welcoming and all loving message to our Elders, thus the name "With Open Arms".
When our Elders are treated with love and respect, not only does it bring them joy, but it supports their place and belonging in the Native community. We have forgotten how to treat our Elders, thus they have forgotten how to be Elders. This forgetting has had a profound and far reaching negative impact in our Native communities. Art can heal. Art, such as a modern day “Chief’s” coat, a vital and fresh mix of old and new, may help to reawaken an Elder’s self- respect when they see they have not been forgotten and in turn, may remind the community of their responsibility to treat their Elders well.
I have since made another coat............
click on image to enlarge
Rhonda Besaw • living in the "Great North Woods" of New Hampshire • 603-837-3381 • send an email