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holly young


Born and raised on the Standing Rock Reservation located in North Dakota made up of both Dakota and Lakota communities, I remember the importance of creating as being a part of my family tradition. “When I was a young girl, I remember my Auntie making star quilts and moccasins for gifts… those were very formative years for me and instilled the importance of creating beautiful items to be worn, being part of your everyday life. It’s our way, the Dakota way of being.”

I have made many items over the years; my first work was a pair of moccasins for my young daughter. As a result, people started to commission items and a few years later, I transformed my

talent into making beadwork into a business. Although new to the contemporary Native Arts scene and learning the ropes of running a small business, I come from a traditional background surrounded by creative women who have inspired me to continue the tradition of creating beautiful objects that are part of the tradition of Dakota women. Historically, personal adornment was used as a status symbol for Dakota families, but today in our constantly evolving culture, I strive to make affordable and beautiful pieces available to everyone. All while maintaining a connection to my roots, instilling pride, and providing an example to my 8-year-old daughter.

I use the powwow culture and modern fashion as influences to expand my repertoire in creating personal adornment with a traditional flair. However, as a growing and evolving artist, my focus has changed with time. It is my passion to focus on revitalizing Isanti Floral beadwork, in any medium whether it be jewelry, moccasins, cradleboards or ledger art. I also use historical objects created by my ancestors as inspiration. I have visited museum collections (MNHS and NDHS), acquired many exhibition catalogs, and search museum archives online. My research is evident in my work; much of my work reflects traditional Plains Indian patterning and colors. I often receive custom orders for work to be done in a specific tribal style. I prefer to honor my Dakota ancestors and use the same items that they used: porcupine quills, sinew, dentalium, rawhide, glass beads, leather, and shells.

My creations have a universal appeal, many Native and non-Native women have acquired my work from all over the country. “We all want to wear items of beauty, and I am extremely pleased that I can share these artistic traditions with everyone”.

I am currently teaching my daughter the fine art of beadwork, the same way I was taught by my aunt when I was a young girl.


My work has been featured at local venues. These include the North Dakota Historical Society, Bismarck, ND; Five Nations Arts Gallery, Mandan, ND; Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates, ND;

Beyond Buckskin Boutique, Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis, MN and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY.


Follow Holly's Work @holly_young_artist