Native American quillwork art technique taught

An ancient art technique is being taught as part of Native American Heritage Month.

The sewing technique that dates back thousands of years was recently taught at Northern Michigan University. It shows the tradition of what’s called quillwork.

Participants were able to make necklaces from the technique of sewing porcupine quills to birch bark. Birch bark is harvested because of its flexibility.

Native American Studies Instructor Kenn Pitawanakwat, says, “We celebrate the artistic merit and the process that goes along with it.  Ornamental, ceremonial, and to acknowledge our traditional roots, the language, the culture of the U.P. and beyond.”

“So I heard about the class and my parents were both interested, cause I am native a little bit, I always like bead work and we decided we had the time to learn to do more.  Porcupine quills, it’s kind of exciting,” says Katy Month, NMU Student.

The technique can be used to make many different items, including baskets, headbands, fans and specialty boxes.

For more events celebrating Native American Heritage Month, call the NMU Center for Native American Studies at (906) 229-1372, email the department at or stop by its office at 112 Whitman Hall.