I was raised in Blackwater at a camp until I was about 10 years old and ready to go to public school. My dad really believed I would lose my culture if he sent me to school before that point. I am very fortunate for this.
I started sewing when I was six years old. My mother taught me at first by making a homemade doll and teaching me how to make the clothing. Through my mother and my aunties, I was taught what they learned from my great-grandmother. All the techniques that my late mother used came from older generations. She is what inspires me - all her patience and knowledge. I would watch her take every stitch and tell me a story behind the drawings and details. There was always a story attached to our artwork.
When we use fur and hide, we respect the materials we work with. When hunters set traps, they do a dance so the animal will come to the snare. The items that are made from that animal must be respected. You also need to take care and make good stitches, not big lazy stitches. When I started making slippers I had to undo the stitches about 8 or 9 times until it was perfect and then I could move on to another project.
I like to make a lot of flowers and different animal drawings in my beading designs. I am doing an eagle design right now. I’ve kept everything my mother has ever given me – slippers or mittens – and now I use all her patterns. I have even taken them apart to see how the material used and how they were constructed. They used to use porcupine quills because they never had beads so I try to take those same designs and make them with beads.