Exhibitions: Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains

During the eighteenth century, European traders brought glass beads to Native tribes living west of the Missouri River. The numerous colors of beads allowed for more creativity, and they supplanted the more subdued and labor-intensive bird and porcupine quills that had been used for decoration. The early white, blue, and black beads were called pony beads because they were transported on ponies. Smaller “seed” beads replaced the larger pony beads in popularity because of greater availability and color choice.