Women’s Arts

When a tribe acquired horses, the status of women improved. Horses helped lighten the work load, and women gained more time for creating art and social involvement. Women’s arts, such as beadwork and ornamenting hides with porcupine quills, flourished.

Among various Plains tribes, quillwork was the province of quillwork guilds. If a woman wanted to learn the skill, she made an offering to a member of the guild. If her offering was accepted, she would be taught the art and allowed to work as an apprentice. Besides being instructional, the guilds were also religious in nature. To become a member of a quillwork guild was to assume a station of respect and power.