Yuȟáȟa Wakšúpi:

Design your own Dakota Florals

Template sheet by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota)

This worksheet will help you create your own Dakota floral designs. It incorporates elements of coloring books but also gives you the freedom to design something totally unique. Floral designs have been used in Dakota (Santee) designs dating back hundreds of years. They are different than Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and reflect our connection with the plant nation. You can learn about the evolution of Dakota beadwork here.

I created a quick video that demonstrates how to use the template after you print it out. Supplies will be paper for tracing and your choice of art materials and supplies. You’ll move your blank paper around on the template to build your custom design. I’ll include historical Dakota pieces in museums for inspiration but feel free to disregard all of that and create however you desire.

Share your finished creations on Instagram and tag me @MylesDesigns and I’ll share your work with my followers. Pidamaya.

If you are not from a Dakota/Lakota nation, I would recommend educating yourself on cultural appropriation vs appreciation before downloading this worksheet. It is open to all to use but it is illegal in the United States to pass off work as Native American if you are not enrolled. Be aware of your actions and act responsibly.

The Sisseton Wahpeton College has created a flyer that teaches different meanings of the symbols and colors. You can download it from their website.

From the Portland Museum of Art: Santee Sioux artist, Non-traditional Women’s Shoes, ca. 1900, glass beads and silk on leather.

From the Minneapolis Institute of ArtCape, c. 1840-1890

This rare cape exemplifies the skillfully executed floral designs characteristic of Dakota beadwork. Using the smallest of glass beads, artists create symmetrical, balanced motifs inspired by the plants they see around them. Note the intricately worked stars sprinkled across the cape and the delicate tendrils along the clasp opening.

From the Portland Art Museum: Santee Sioux artist, Child’s Vest, ca. 1860, porcupine quill, silk, and calico on Native tanned hide.

From the Minneapolis Institute of ArtCradleboard, c. 1880

Cradle covers were usually made by the relatives of the child, and given to the mother to use when the baby arrives. Cradles play an important function because it nestles the child, and the cradle can be worn on the mother’s back, or put on the side of a horse. Highly decorated ones are especially prized because it is symbolic of the pride and love of the child, and illustrates the skill of the artists. This porcupine quilled cradle cover is an excellent example of Dakota work. It features elaborate floral designs and animals. Elk, buffalo, dragonflies, and butterflies can be found. The artist who created this masterpiece had an exceptional command of quillworking, illustrated by the graceful portrayal of the birds.

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