Close up photo of traditional Alaska Native woven basket.

Virtual Workshops: Athabaskan Beadwork for Beginners

Click here to view recordings of four beginning Athabaskan beadwork classes with Kathleen Meckel

In July and August of 2020 educator and master bead worker Kathleen Meckel took her extraordinary teaching skills online with a four part series of “micro-projects” for beginning bead workers. The classes were offered by the Morris Thompson Center with generous support from the Alaska Native Heritage Center and AlaskaLive.TV.

Participants learned traditional Athabaskan bead motifs of Interior Alaska while creating their own wearable art. Each of the classes was designed to guide beginners from beginning to end of a beading project in about two hours, with plenty of wonderful storytelling and sharing along the way.

“People have busy lives and limited time for traditional practices to be shared, so it is important to create micro learning spaces for this to occur with planned beading projects that could be completed. This style makes it easier for people to slip into spaces of time that fit their needs or to select an activity they would like to participate in,” explained Kathleen. Kathleen pointed out that the value of the learning goes beyond skills because “traditional story telling takes place during periods of activity, and this is when cultural values and beliefs are shared or passed on. When you are teaching others how to bead there is focus, and usually curiosity, making this the perfect time for passing on traditional knowledge.”

You can make a gift at to support future Alaska Native Cultural programming like this. If you decide to make one of these projects, please share a picture on Facebook at @morristhompsoncenter and @kathleensbeads !