American Indians made beads of wood, bone, and shell long before the fur traders first came to the West. They used them for jewelry and as a form of money. Great Plains tribes also used beads and porcupine quills to decorate their clothes and other things. European traders brought glass beads made in Italy and Bohemia. These beads were strong and colorful. Some of the first beads were "pony" beads about inch in diameter. These can be seen in the necklace shown here. A Lakota from the Grand River area owned this necklace. Later, traders also brought smaller "seed" beads. Beadwork soon began to replace quillwork. Seed beads were used to make the carrying pouch shown here. Bead Necklace

Bead Pouch

Photos courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society