Celebrating Haudenosaunee Beadwork

1-4 pm
South Lobby

The New York State Museum is honored to host three Haudenosaunee beadworkers, Grant Wade Jonathan (Tuscarora), Wilma (Kawennaronnion) Cook-Zumpano (Mohawk), and KarenLyne Hill (Onondaga), who will demonstrate the art of beadworking to visitors. Scholar Dolores Elliott will share some of her research pertaining to the history of Haudenosaunee beadworking at Niagara Falls. A selection of historic pieces from Elliott’s collection will also be on display in the Art of the Erie Canal exhibit.

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) beadwork is a skilled artform that has its origin in New York. Many contemporary Haudenosaunee artists continue to work with this medium, as did their relatives, inspired by tiny glass beads imported from Venice and Eastern Europe beginning in the 17th century. Historically, Haudenosaunee sold their elaborate creations at popular tourist destinations, such as Saratoga Springs, the New York State Fair, and Niagara Falls. Their work features intricately beaded ornaments, pincushions, card holders, wall pockets, picture frames, and other keepsakes that reflect Haudenosaunee ingenuity and aesthetic.

About the Beadworkers

Dolores Elliott became fascinated with Iroquois beadwork over 70 years ago but it wasn’t until 40 years ago that she began to seriously investigate it as a cultural art form. With a master’s in archaeology she used archaeological methods such as typology and seriation to study the cultural affinity and evolution of the various types. Her first book, Flights of Fancy: An Introduction to Iroquois Beadwork, published in 2002, has been followed by several essays in publications by the Society of Bead Researchers and the Bead Society of Great Britain among others. In 2009 she organized the first International Iroquois Beadwork Conference, which continues to be held annually, attended by collectors, researchers, and beadworkers from several states and provinces.

Wilma (Kawennaronnion) Cook-Zumpano (Akwesasne, Mohawk) is a member of the Wolf Clan and has been making native garments and adornments since she was a teenager. Wilma presents her artwork at many museums, competes in juried shows, and has been warmly welcomed at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Art Market, Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival, and the Woodland Indian Art Show and Market. She is frequently invited to make educational presentations in schools and brings an age-appropriate, mini museum of objects to share her culture with students. She teaches beading classes and has been a Native Roots Artist Guild member since 2012.

KarenLyne Hill was born and raised on the Onondaga Nation. Before KarenLyne became a skilled artist in traditional beading, she set her sights on college, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management. KarenLyne would later be influenced by the many artisans from the Indian Village at the New York State Fair, in particular, Mary Jacobs of the Cattaraugus-Seneca Nation. KarenLyne has participated in many craft expositions, including the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Art Market, the Eiteljörg Museum Indian Market and Festival, the Santa Fe Indian Art Market (SWAIA), and many other local art and craft shows. She has served on the Board of Trustees to The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York.

Grant Wade Jonathan’s great grandmother Edith Jonathan was a beadworker who sold her work at Niagara Falls. Grant’s interest in raised Tuscarora-style beadwork is inspired by his ancestors’ work, as well as mentorship from Tuscarora beadworker Rosemary Hill. He has exhibited his work at the Southwest Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Indian Market, Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, Autry American Indian Arts Marketplace, and the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Art Market, as well as at conferences and workshops in upstate New York. When beads aren’t on his mind, Grant works as tribal program manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in New York City.


Beaded bird, ca. 1860–1920, Tuscarora

Unknown artist, Tuscarora 
Beaded bird, ca. 1860–1920
Fabric, glass seed beads
Collection of Dolores Elliott