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Montana man shares his love of Native American beading

Ira Henderson of Great Falls
Ira Henderson of Great Falls
Posted at 9:17 AM, May 04, 2022

GREAT FALLS - Beadwork is one of the most admired traditional Native American art forms.

Thanks to many tribes adopting their own methods and styles, beading is a special hobby rich in culture.

Ira Henderson of Great Falls — a Little Shell Tribe member — has taken that hobby to new heights.

“It’s something I started three years ago, and I really like it. It allows me to sit down and focus on something that means a lot to me,” explained Ira.

With numerous pieces that have each taken hundreds of hours individually, Ira’s eye for color and designs are unmatched.

Beadwork created by Ira Henderson of Great Falls

“I was able to catch on fairly quickly and I’m really good at making up designs. The main colors I like to use are fire colors like red, orange, and yellow. They go with every color and are very traditional,”

His goal since beginning beading has always been to put his own take on the traditional art form and teach others how to do it as well.

Currently, he is busy passing along the hobby to his three kids as well as teaching classes at the Alliance For Youth.

“Anyone can learn how to bead even if they’re not Native American. It’s a good hobby to learn. We do teach a class here in town through the Youth Alliance.”

You can find some of Ira’s pieces at art shows such as the First People’s Buffalo Jump Art Exhibit and at powwows. His love for the art goes to show just how tradition can ignite a passion.

“I feel more connected with my culture and I am very amazed and thankful every day that I get to do this.”