Left: Chairman's Award winner Nelson Fred; at right: Special Prize entry of traditionally dressed doll with cradleboard by Thomas Johnson on display at the Native American booth at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
BLACKFOOT — The Native American Department at the Eastern Idaho State Fair had 327 entries this year, said Lilly Little-Jay, exhibit superintendent.
It is her first year running the booth and she was grateful for the assistance of Bonnie Wadsworth and Bernita Appenay, who were instrumental in getting things to run smoothly.
“With their help I believe it was a success,” she said.
A Special Prize winner awarded by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes was Thomas Johnson, who created a traditionally dressed doll with beaded moccasins and beaded cradleboard along with a start to finish photos.
Johnson said he’s always wanted to enter something into the exhibit but never had time. Once he decided to go for it, it took him three days to complete.
He learned to bead when he was eight or nine years old and was taught by his mother, Sharon Johnson.
Buckskin, wing dresses and elk tooth dresses on display.
A fully beaded vest entered by Nelson Fred won the Chairman’s Award. The vest took many years to complete. It was made by through the collaborative efforts of bead workers Gladys Papse-Putnam, who did the roses, arms bands, cuffs and necktie; the late Wilma Teton and Nita Teton did the background on the vest; Myra Fred, his wife, contributed to the the background and edging the vest; Beana Gould completed the piece.
Nelson came up with the design of the vest and chose to put a peace dove on it to represent a promise that God made for hope and peace.
Fred said basically his relatives did all the beadwork and he was thankful to all of them for finishing it. He was pretty happy they got the award and was glad to showcase it to the public.
“I’m glad it’s done and I can wear it to functions,” he said.
Fred’s next plan is to get moccasins made to match the set.
Mary Ann Appenay won the Superintendent’s Choice Award for a shell dress with unsmoked buckskin fringe. Little-Jay chose it for its quality in being hand sewn. The dress hit close to her heart and reminded her of her grandmother.
An elk tooth dress entered by Lori Ann Edmo won a special prize.
The Tribal Leader items included winning entries by Benny Dann, who won a special prize for his storybook.
Little-Jay said, “Everything that was brought up was truly remarkable, our pictures, our photographs, everything there.”
She encouraged people to come walk through and admire the work of the talented artists. She said the people who entered their items are proud of them and she is too.
“It’s truly an honor to work with everyone there,” she said.