Nebraska Artist Honors Native Culture through Traditional Beadwork & Quillwork

There is so much to discover in Nebraska’s small towns. The Santee Sioux Reservation, located east of Niobrara, is filled to the brim with talented artists and craftspersons, entrepreneurs, and some of the most beautiful landscapes. Kady Strickland is one of Santee’s beadwork/quillwork artists and an amazing role model for her community.

Her business is called Yellow Star Design. She designs authentic and custom made Native American hand stitched bead work including earrings, medallions, lanyards and more. She also makes regalia, does leather work, and recently learned how to do quillwork.

Kady will be setting up and selling her artwork at the Santee Sioux Nation Art Show and Community Market on Saturday, June 4, 2016, outside the Ohiya Casino & Resort on Highway 12. The Art Show will feature authentic Native American art and designs including beadwork, quillwork, hand drawings, designer jewelry, woodwork, dream catchers and more.

We met with Kady to discuss how she started her adventures as an artist to her efforts today in passing on her traditions to her family and community. 

I come from a long line of artists. My great grandmother, grandmother, and parents are all quilters, leather workers, and make their own regalia, a traditional outfit that you can see at Powwows. At the age of 7, I started beadwork by loom. By 9, I was making pillows, and at age 11, I beaded my first pair of moccasins. I was introduced to beading moccasins when I attended the Brave Heart Society in South Dakota.

The Brave Heart Society was formed by a group of grandmothers on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota with a mission to bring back traditional knowledge.  Elders that came to speak at Braveheart said that, “If quillwork and beadwork were to die, our culture would die or not be recognized.” The designs of beadwork are very sacred, and finishing a piece is a big accomplishment. The pieces express who we are as a Tribe and people. Our designs and work keep culture and spirituality alive within us. Now I teach my own children what I have been taught. 

A few years back, I was invited to sell my artwork at the old Santee casino gift shop. My items flew off the shelf and I started to receive requests from the greater public. I would get requests for things I never tried before and would always give a shot at making it. People to this day remember and ask me every now and then to make something I have made in the past.

I also sell my work at the powwows throughout the year. I travel to a lot of powwows with my family, throughout Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Powwows are a place to see friends and relatives, create connections with other artists, and increase my business sales. I do believe it is better for locals to buy from others in the community, to promote entrepreneurship and build the local economy. We aren’t selling products made from China; our artwork is original and authentic. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you make a mistake. Don’t get mad at yourself; just ask someone. Go to workshops and learn as much as you can. Bring your kids to the workshop. There are always other kids for them to play with. When beading and quilling have an open mind and good heart because it will reflect in your work. 

Kady teaches beading to youth and adults twice a week through the Santee Heart Program. You can find Kady’s products on her etsy site called Yellow Star Design. You can also find her on facebook at or reach her at or 402.302. 9442.

The Santee Sioux Nation Art Show and Community Market will launch Saturday, June 4, 2016, outside the Ohiya Casino and Resort on Highway 12, just east of Niobrara, Neb. on the Santee Sioux Reservation. The Community Market will continue every Saturday featuring homemade and handmade products: authentic Native American arts and designs; jams, pickles, salsas; fresh produce (when available); baked goods; rummage items and more.

All vendors are welcome. Free booth space for vendors and some tables and tents provided. Contact our Market Manager: Kristin Flyinghawk at 402.404.6950 to sign up for a booth or for more information.