How to Bead a Native Choker

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How to Bead a Native Choker
Chokers are worn by many different tribes. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Native chokers are tight fitting necklaces that usually employ bone or horn and other brightly coloured beads. Chokers are multi-stranded and use natural animal sinews or leather to string the beads. Besides decorative purposes, Native American chokers also served as protection to the vulnerable neck and throat areas when out hunting and were believed to offer spiritual protection to the vocal chords. Make your own Native American choker necklace using traditional materials or modern substitutes and wear it with pride.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 4 strands of sinew
  • 16 hair-pipe bone or horn beads
  • 160 pony beads
  • 6 bone choker spacers
  • 1 large turquoise bead

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  1. 1

    Visit a bead shop. Buy the beads that you want for your Native choker here, including the bone or horn hair-pipe beads and the bone spacers. For pony beads, choose several colours that go together like red, blue and yellow or black red and green. For the centre bead -- the show piece of the choker -- choose something significant to you like a turquoise stone bead, a brilliant piece of abalone or a carved obsidian bead.

  2. 2

    Draw the four strands of sinew through the four holes of one of the bone spacers. Bring this spacer all the way to the far left of the sinews as you will be stacking the rest of the bead work against it.

  3. 3

    Put three or four pony beads on each strand of sinew in the exact same pattern and order. Use colour combinations that complement each other. If using four beads and just three colours, begin and end the sequence with the same colour.

  4. 4

    Add a hair-pipe bead to each strand, making sure that they are parallel and equally aligned.

  5. 5

    Add another three or four pony beads and then add a bone spacer to give the choker support and to keep it in alignment.

  6. 6

    Add three or four more beads, another hair-pipe, more pony beads and another spacer.

  7. 7

    Add a row of six or seven coloured pony beads here, the midpoint of the choker, then add another spacer.

  8. 8

    Repeat the process on the other side of the choker until you have a four-sectioned choker with four loose sinews of equal length on either side.

  9. 9

    Slide the eight strands of sinew through your special large bead. Try to select a bead that will make this as tight a fit as possible.

  10. 10

    Slide three pony beads onto the end of each sinew and then tie it off with a tight overhand knot.

  11. 11

    To put on the choker, simply slide down the large central bead and slip the choker over your head, tightening it up by sliding up the choker when you are done.

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