A breakthrough: After several years of searching for success at home, Tara has now moved off of her reservation. “My daughter likes Vermillion,” she says with a smile as she effortlessly works on beading a baby tennis shoe. It is obvious that she wants the best for her daughter.
Even though Tara’s desire to achieve a bachelor’s degree in business has not yet been fulfilled, she has found success outside of the classroom in a business that blossomed overnight. Read the beginning of Tara's story here.
“My daughter started dancing at powwows at age four,” Tara shares. “I wanted her to be confident in what she was wearing, so I wanted to learn how to bead.” Tara signed up for a beading class on her reservation. She says, “I didn’t intend to sell my beadwork; I learned to bead for my family.”
Regalia for powwows and other ceremonies bear intricate beadwork that becomes costly. Learning to bead rosettes, headbands, earrings, necklaces, and moccasins saves a family valuable dollars.
Tara holds up a pair of baby shoes and says, “My mom found shoes like these at a rummage sale for free. She wanted me to bead them for my nephew who is now six years old, but I never got around to it,” she laughs. “Recently, I found them and decided to bead them for my new nephew.”
When Tara finished the shoes last fall, she posted them on a Facebook group, and people started sharing them and contacting her about buying them. The photo of her shoes circulated on the “Native Beauties” page and others.
One day Tara received a request from a Minneapolis man who had seen the beaded baby shoes on his local news broadcast. They had listed Tara’s shoes as the “Viral Pic of the Day.”
Needless to say, Tara is currently working on two pair of shoes for him now. Her shoes have become such a success that she has a production waiting list that is more than six months long. She is beading every chance she gets.
Connecting the dots
“I like making these because they are different,” she says. “I know they are not traditional, but everything evolves.” Tara advises, “You have to push beyond boundaries. We all get stuck in a box and become too comfortable, and that is when you are unhappy and bored with life.”
Tara looks at the shoe and waves it in the air. “That is Rez life. That is why I went to St. Joseph's Indian School for high school and why I moved to Vermillion.” She wants more.
Tara relates that she, her mom, and her friends all talk about how the reservation should be and could be. She wants that talk to be more than just talk, though. She wants to see change.
“What is that saying?” she asks. “Be the change you wish to see in the world—it is totally true.”
While Tara’s journey has been arduous, her strength and family pulled her through. Unfortunately, others sometimes don’t have her fortitude or as good of a support system.
Native Hope and its partners want to help young Native Americans during this difficult transition period by encouraging them to develop a network that will assist them in living out their dreams to “be the change” they wish to be.
This assistance may help them find a path to follow when their dreams fade and their journey becomes challenging.
For Tara, success is in sight. She hopes that her beading business will continue to grow and that her daughter will love herself. Tara also hopes to learn how to be happy for herself instead of worrying about what other people expect of her.
From her beading, Tara has learned patience and that nothing is perfect—an important lesson for the journey toward flourishing wherever her path may lead.
Will you stand with Native Hope as we empower change and inspire dreams for a brighter future?