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Indigenous beading supply store opens in Billings, offers classes

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 08, 2023

BILLINGS — Indigenous design is becoming more popular thanks to shows like Yellowstone, and now there’s a new store in Billings offering supplies like seed beads and dentalium. The owners are inviting the community to come in and learn about the culture and even make a pair of earrings or other designs.

“We’d like to invite everybody, everybody that would like to learn. You don’t have to be native, you don’t have to be indigenous, anybody can sign up. If you want to learn it, we can teach you,” says 406 Native Roots co-owner and designer Lisa Hawley, a self-taught Apache and Hispanic beader, whose husband happens to be an enrolled member of Montana's Aaniiih tribe from the Fort Belknap Reservation.

“My wife tries to emulate as best she can the traditional designs of the Aaniiih people. We tend to try and use geometric designs and then some floral patterns are integrated in as well,” says Bradley Hawley, 406 Native Roots co-owner and designer.

Lisa picked up a needle and the traditions of her husband’s culture years ago and hasn’t put them down since. Now, she wants you to do the same at 406 Native Roots, which offers classes ranging from beading to quill work to sewing.

“This took about a week to make this, and then I made the belt. I just try to keep things as traditional as possible,” says Lisa Hawley.

Lisa and her family-owned indigenous business teach these traditions, even offering work stations for rent for avid beaders or beginners.

“The demand is going to be really high,” says Bradley Hawley.

That's because two local beading stores closed as a result of the pandemic and 406 Native Roots owners say beaders like to see and feel exact colors and textures instead of ordering online.

“There's a high demand for supplies, for high-quality beads that my wife uses, and a lot of other artists use. They are specific beads. Natives are very specific in what they want and what they use,” says Bradley Hawley.

The Hawleys daughters are also co-owners and designers, selling handmade jewelry in the store.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by going to the pow wows and asking my grandma for some jewelry, mainly some earrings, and I’ve always been intrigued on how to make them,” says Quill Hawley, 406 Native Roots co-owner and designer.

Anyone who is intrigued can stop by and learn the traditions too.

406 Native Roots is hosting a grand opening event at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10. The store is at 1020 Central Ave. by Subway.