The Struggle

Beaded Bandolier Bags by Martha Berry

Completed: October 2006, requiring 218 hours to produce

Size: Approx. 32H x 15W x 1D

Materials: Glass beads on rainbow selvage trade cloth, cotton calico, silk ribbon, and wool yarn. To the extent possible, all materials are authentic to the early 19th century.

In todays world, it is easy to admire bullies, and easy to be one. However, just as it is unwise to avoid a conflict simply because we know that we will lose, it is also unwise to enter a conflict simply because we know that we will win.

We must always maintain a balance when dealing with conflict, as individuals, as families, as communities and as nations.

Using a Mound Builder symbol to represent the Uktena of Cherokee lore, this bag explores the balance between peace and war. Although conflict is inevitable in human life, we are reminded of the importance of maintaining this balance when dealing with it. The Cherokee colors of red for war, and white for peace, are displayed in equal portion.

The background and edging are black, the Cherokee color for death.

As your eye moves from the bottom to the top of this piece, the conflict escalates. At the bottom of the pouch are four-winds symbols. One is the color of peace, but with the ever-present threat of war within it. The other is the color of war, with the ever-present promise of peace within it. They are simple designs, basic, uncluttered.

On the pouch flap, we see two Uktena, one for peace and one for war. They are not yet fully mature, and are imitating the example of their elders on either side. On the strap we see two mature Uktena, fully engaged in conflict. Even this motif is balanced, however, in peace and war colors.

To the extent possible, authentic 19th century materials were used to produce The Struggle. Those materials include European glass seed beads, glass trade beads, rainbow selvage trade cloth, cotton calico, silk ribbon and wool yarn. The techniques used are typical of Cherokee bandolier bags made prior to 1840.