Stitching ourselves back together: urban Indigenous women's experience of reconnecting with identity through beadwork

Date

2020-11-04

Authors

Bowler, Shawna

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Abstract

This thesis explores how urban Indigenous women experience reconnections to cultural identity when they take up the practice of traditional beadwork. A beading methodology was used to explore the experiences of five urban Indigenous women in Winnipeg. Within this methodology, stories and conversations about beadwork are used as a way to gather and share knowledge in research. Participants were asked to share their experience of identity reconnections through beadwork stories. The major elements of this beading methodology and its underlying theoretical, epistemological and ontological roots are told through the story of the beaded medicine bags that were created for and gifted to each participant for the knowledge they contributed to this research. The author’s own beaded medicine bag is also used as a framework for a thematic analysis and discussion of the research findings. The themes identified through this analysis suggest beading as a multi-faceted and action-oriented approach that facilitates processes of journeying, remembering, relationships, asserting the self and healing that urban Indigenous women experience through their engagement with this practice. This thesis concludes by highlighting some of the important implications of beading as an Indigenous way of knowing, being and doing in social work practice and research to promote decolonization, resiliency, wellness and healing in our work with Indigenous communities.

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Keywords

beading methodology, beadwork stories, Indigenous women, Indigenous identity, Indigenous methodology, Indigenous knowledge, beadwork, beading

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