Brown enjoys creating beadwork, powwow regalia

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
01/03/2019 09:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
At this year’s Cherokee National Holiday Art Show, Cherokee artist Brandi Brown, of Bell, won honorable mention for a powwow outfit she sewed titled “Weave Your Own Path.” Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden also chose her work for their “Adult Choice” awards. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A necklace and matching earrings made by Cherokee artist Brandi Brown are the giveaway items from the Cherokee Phoenix’s first quarterly giveaway in 2019. People can gain entries for the drawing by donating to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veterans Fund or buying a Cherokee Phoenix subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent or donated. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – Cherokee artist Brandi Brown’s grandmother got her started doing beadwork when Brandi was about 11. But as she got into her teenage years growing up in Bell in Adair County she focused on softball and put aside doing beadwork and other arts.

“And then I went to college. I didn’t play softball in college, so I needed a hobby. I’m one of those people who can’t just sit around,” she said. “I had moved to (Joaquin) Texas, in with some family down there, and my aunt got me into it (beading) again. She showed me how, and we started powwowing. Powwow regalia is very expensive, so it was cheaper to make it myself. So I started learning. I learned how to do the moccasins, to make the dresses. I did it all head to toe. I just got addicted I guess.”

She danced as a “Southern Cloth” dancer at powwows. She made one set of powwow clothing, and because she was “addicted” to making powwow clothing she said she “immediately” made a second set.

After attending Panola Community College in Carthage, Texas, she moved back to Bell because she said she missed her mom. Still interested in powwows, she decided she wanted to be “Buckskin” dancer.

“It took me years, but eventually I accomplished it. I made an entire buckskin regalia, and then my grandma got sick with cancer. She was always the one who approved my regalia. I always showed her first,” she said. “When she got sick I sold it. It kind of helped with her medicines and trips to Tulsa to the oncologist.”

Later, she said she made another fully beaded “Southern Cloth” powwow set with wolf paw prints and entered it into the Cherokee National Holiday show in 2016. She won first place in her category. She said she never got to wear it because it sold.

The following year in March, she lost her grandmother. “I haven’t really (powwow) danced since I lost her.”

At this year’s Cherokee National Holiday Art Show, Brown won honorable mention for a powwow outfit titled “Weave Your Own Path.” However, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden chose her for their Adult Choice Awards.

The outfit included a traditional wrap skirt embellished with ribbons and a wolf paw print because that’s her Cherokee clan. It also included a bandolier bag, moccasins and a belt to match and a shawl without fringe, which is usually seen with women’s powwow regalia. She said she worked on the outfit for a month and added matching earrings to go with the outfit.

She had planned to wear the colorful outfit, but a buyer purchased it.

Also, this year, at 34, she branched out and made a Facebook page (BBDesigns@2384) specifically for her beadwork and powwow regalia business called BB Designs. She also can be reached by calling 918-507-2484.

“I don’t think I’ve actually lost the passion for making regalia. I enjoy it so much. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t making something,” she said.

Though beadwork and making powwow regalia are her passions, she said someday she would like to learn how to paint and be a photographer.

“I think painters are just amazing. I’ve seen some of the stuff they’ve done, and I wish I had that kind of talent. With a little practice I could probably make it come out,” she said. “But beadwork is my favorite. I enjoy making new things.”

She said she does mostly custom beadwork, so people sometimes call her with a new challenge.

“It’s ‘hey, can you do this? Hey, I saw this. Do you think you can do it?’ I think that’s fun,” she said.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He e ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He e ...

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