Tayler Gutierrez ever-evolving with Kamama Beadwork

Shown are watermelon seed necklaces, which Cherokee Nation citizen Tayler Gutierrez was inspired to create after seeing a necklace on display while visiting the Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah. 

SANTA FE, N.M. – Ever-evolving like the kamama, (Cherokee for butterfly) is how Cherokee Nation citizen Tayler Gutierrez sees not only herself but her business, Kamama Beadwork. Gutierrez, 24, began beading three years ago and creates everything from beaded earrings to beaded hat brims and purses.

“I was working at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. And they have a Native American portion of their park, and we would teach about the tribes there in Utah,” she said. “And that’s actually where I learned how to bead. It was a really great opportunity because I was working with a handful of other Native people. It really inspired me to…learn more about myself and about my own people.”

Gutierrez started an Instagram page for her beadwork approximately two years ago and surprisingly found a “huge” Indigenous beading community.

“I had no idea that there was such a huge Instagram Indigenous beading community. It kind of like knocked my socks off when I like started finding all of these accounts,” she said. “I had beaded a hat. I beaded around the brim, and that kind of just went viral to me. And I’m like, there’s only a few 100 likes, but I only had like 20 followers at the time. So then I did a giveaway because I just felt really grateful that so many people had taken to it.”

When the pandemic hit in 2020, her hours were cut at her job so she took to beading. “I just really leaned into my beading. Eventually people started asking, ‘are you selling?’ So I started making pieces to sell online, and it really just took off from there,” she said.

Gutierrez said she believes Kamama Beadwork “really” became its own entity after a photoshoot with her friends to promote her pieces. “I like to think outside the box, and I got this idea to do a photoshoot with a handful of my really good friends. And I think that that’s when Kamama Beadwork really became like its own entity. I just feel so completely humbled…a bunch of women just absolutely loved the photoshoot because they were seeing other Indigenous women that look like them.”

As for the future, Gutierrez plans to evolve her business and hopes to design clothing.

“I really hope that one day I can start designing my own clothes. For these photoshoots, I make some of the pieces but I just don’t have the capacity to make all of them,” she said. “But I always want it to be slow fashion, something that’s very thoughtful. I always want it to feel intimate but also not so unreachable that nobody can ever have something that I make.”

Gutierrez said she tries to have meaning behind her pieces, with one of her latest projects being watermelon seed necklaces that she created to pay homage to a necklace she saw while visiting the Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah. “I was looking at it and I was like, ‘you know what, I bet I could make this’ and I wanted to change it up just to be respectful. I think it’s really great to be able to look at old styles and then reimagine them and bring them back to today and for our own community to be able to wear those styles again.”

For Gutierrez, being Cherokee means thinking about what she’s going to do with her heritage. “I've been Cherokee my whole life but I never did anything about it. And so now, when I think about what it means, I really asked myself how am I going to give back. There’s a level of reciprocity that comes with being Cherokee, with how we treat the world and how we treat the other people around us. And so, it’s really become something that I tried to put my whole heart into because I think it really matters.”

Gutierrez, a CN Tribal Employment Rights Office certified-artist, is a sophomore at the Institute of American Indian Arts where she studies studio art. For information, visit Kamama Beadwork on Instagram @kamamabeadwork.

SANTA FE, N.M. – ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᏓᏁᏟᏴᏍᎪ ᎤᏠᏯ ᎧᎹᎹ, (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎹᎹ) ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Taylor Gutierrez ᎠᎪᏩᏘᏍᎪ Ꮭ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏓᎾᏅᎢ, ᎧᎹᎹ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᎪᏢᏔᏅᎢ, Gutierrez, 24, ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᏦᎢ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᏗᏟᎠᏙ ᏃᎴ ᎠᎵᏍᏇᏚᏬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᎦᎸᏙᏗ.

“ᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᏴᏫ ᏧᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ Salt Lake City, Utah. ᎠᎴ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏴᏫ ᏧᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏙᏣᏕᏲᎲᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎾᎿ Utah,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏙ,Ꮢ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ. ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏙᏢᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ ᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎠᏂᎦᏲᏟ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ. ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᏆᏚᎸᎲᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏆᏛᏗᎢ..... ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᏋᏌ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎣᎩᏠᏯ.”

Gutierrez ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ Instagram ᎤᎦᏅᏓᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏍᏆᏂᎪᏒ ᎤᏩᏛᎲ “ᎤᏔᎾ” ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᏗᏅᏍᎦ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ ᎤᏂᏚᎲᎢ.

“Ꮭ  ᏱᎨᎵᏍᎨ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏳᏣᏍᏈᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ  ᎾᎿ Instagram ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏗᏃᏢᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏚᎲᎢ.  ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏆᏛᎦᏂ ᏓᏩᎵᏲᎩᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᏕᏥᏩᏘᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ accounts,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏔᏯᏢᏗ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᎠᏆᎵᏍᏇᏚᎬ. ᎠᏋᏅᎢ ᎬᏩᏕᏯᏓ ᎠᎵᏍᏇᏚᏬᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ viral ᎨᏒ. ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏆᏍᏗ, ᎠᏂᎦᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎢᏳᎾᏍᏗ, ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᏂᎥ ᎬᎩᏍᏓᏩᏕᎬ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏯᏂᎩᏓ.  ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᏓᏁᎸ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏓᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᏂᎩᏒᎢ.”

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎥᏳᎩ ᏧᏱᎶᏢ ᎾᎿ 2020, ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏂᎦᎵᏒᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏯᏢᏓ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ. “ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎠᏆᎵᏍᎦᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏯᏢᏓ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬᎢ. ᎤᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎬᏆᏛᏛᎲᏍᎬ, ‘ᎯᎾᏕᎦᏍ” ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎬ ᎠᎩᎾᏗᏅᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏏᎳᏛ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏂᎩᏒ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.

Gutierrez ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏬᎯᏳ ᎧᎹᎹ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎪ “ᏙᎯᏳ” ᏄᎵᏍᏔᎾ ᎤᏩᏌ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᏚᎾᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏃᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎵᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᎢᏳᏅᏗ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎯ.” ᎠᎩᎸᏉᏓ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᏙᏯᏗᏢ ᎧᏁᏎᎢᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᏗᏆᏟᎶᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏦᎦᎵᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎹᎹ ᏗᏯᏢᏗ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏙᏢᏗ ᎠᏆᏤᎵᎢ. ᎢᎦᎢ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏔ….. ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏓ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏓᎾᏓᎪᏩᏘᏍᎬ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎠᏂᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏕᎨᎦᏟᎶᏍᏛᎢ.”

ᎤᏩᎪᏗᏗᏒᏃ, Gutierrez ᏚᏭᎦᏓ ᎤᏬᏢᏗ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏚᎦ ᎤᏩᎭ ᎾᏍᏯ ᏗᎾᏬ ᏧᏬᏢᏗᎢ.

“ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᏌᏊ ᎢᎦ ᎬᏆᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏋᏌ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᏗᎾᏬ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅ. ᎡᎵᏊ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏱᏕᎪᏢᏅ ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎡᎵ ᎢᎦ ᏯᏊᏝᏅᏓᏕᎰᎢ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏗᏉᏢᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎠᏎᏃ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᏙᎢ ᎠᏱᎸᏓ ᏧᏬᏢᏗ ᏗᎾᏬᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏍᎦᏃᎵ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᎸᏅᎢ. ᎢᎦ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎪ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏒ ᏃᎴ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏂᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎤᏂᏩᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏉᏢᏅᎢ.” 

Gutierrez ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎢᏳᏩᏅᏗ ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎬᎢ, ᎾᏖ ᏌᏊ ᎾᏟᎬ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᎢ ᎬᎩᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᎦᏘ ᎤᏬᏢᏔᏅ ᎠᏯᏢᏗ ᎤᏈ ᏴᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏯᏢᏗ ᎤᎪᎮ ᏓᏩᏛᎯᏙᎲ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎠᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏓᏅ ᏓᎵᏆ.”

ᎠᏆᎦᏙᏍᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏂᎯ, ᏣᏅᏔᏍ, ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᎪᏢᎾ ᎯᎠ’ ᎠᎴ ᏱᏥᏁᏟᏴᎾ ᏍᏗᎩᏓ. ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᏗᎦᏙᏍᏙᏗ ᏧᏪᏘ ᎠᏍᏆᏂᎪᏛ ᎠᏅᏓᏗᏍᏍ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎠᏲᎯᏍᏗ ᎪᎯ ᎢᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏕᎲ ᏗᎾᏬᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏠᏯ ᎪᎯᎦ ᏥᏚᎾᏄᏮ ᎪᎯᎦ.”

ᎾᏍᎩ Gutierrez, ᎠᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒ ᏂᎪᎯᎵ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏍᎪ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᎢ. “ᏥᏣᎳᎩᎮᏅ ᏣᏩᏕᏅ ᏅᏛᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᏛᏁᎸ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ. ᏃᏊᏃ , ᏯᏆᏓᏅᏖᏢ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎦᏙᎬᎢ, ᎦᏓᏛᏛᎲᏍᎪ ᎠᏋᏌ ᎦᏙ ᎤᏍᏗ ᏓᎦᏥᏁᎵ ᎨᎵᏍᎪᎢ. ᎠᏟᎶᎠ ᎢᏧᎳᎭ ᎾᎿ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᏧᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏫᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏕᏛᎾᏕᎬ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᏝᏗᏢ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ.  ᎠᎴ ᏐᎢ ᎨᏒ, ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎧᎵᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎪ ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎤᏰᎸᏗ ᎯᎠ.”

Gutierrez, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏂᎾᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᎨᏥᎾᏢᏗ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᎤᏂᎲ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎨᎳ --ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎩ, ᏔᎵᏁ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏓ ᎾᎿ Institute of American Indian Arts ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᏧᎾᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎲᏍᏗᎢ.

– TRANSLATED BY ANNA SIXKILLER