For more than two decades, Bird Mountain, artist and Native American, has been making and selling buffalo bone jewelry.

According to Mountain, since she was young she has been an artist and now she makes various forms of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

“I’m a bone sculptor and I started about 28 years ago and I’m going to get buffalo bones and carve patterns and use different stones,” Mountain said. “It’s unique.”

The jeweler said she first started learning the art of bone carving from the elders of the tribe she was enrolled in in Red Lake, Minnesota, despite claiming Dakota.

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“I quit drinking and using drugs and had a parent who asked me if I would like to learn how to do this job,” Mountain said. “It was my self-healing.”

She said she had started making jewelry for women and men in her community.

“I pray with my work and it has spread to a lot of people who need this healing base, which is why I started,” she said.

For the past five years, Mountain has lived in Oklahoma City and sells his work primarily at local powwows and festivals, including here in Pottawatomie County.

The different tribes and peoples are some of the things she enjoys living in Oklahoma.

Many members of various tribes have purchased Mountain’s work as well as those who attend the festivals she visits.

“I got a lot of compliments. I heard people say ‘I’ve never seen this before,'” she said. “It’s really unique. It’s a great job.”

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Over the years, Mountain said she honed her skills as a bone sculptor and jewelry designer by learning herself, experimenting and learning from others.

The artist explained that bone carving is a Native American tradition.

“It goes way back in history. They used water, stone and things to make jewelry a long time ago,” Mountain said.

Now there are tools like files and exercises that make it easier, she said, but it’s still a difficult art form that takes time.

“It takes me about three days to make a piece if I get it perfect,” she said. “It really helps me.”

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Selling Bird’s jewelry is Mountain’s full-time job and main source of income, but she loves it and it keeps her busy.

The jeweler will also do custom orders such as bolo ties, necklaces, and jewelry sets.

Mountain finds the buffalo bone which she uses for her art in other tribes in the state.

This is something she appreciates about her job, as she meets many different people who also understand her values ​​and culture.

“I’m a traditional woman and I’ve had a lot of elders who taught me a lot of things and I know there are a lot of traditional people here as well,” Mountain said. “And no matter what tribe we are, we are all related.”

The jewelry designer said she made her pieces outside of her home because she used drills and other tools.

“When it rains I have to stop. When it snows I have to stop,” Mountain said. “You don’t want sand in your house because bones smell really bad.”

For Mountain, the best part of selling his artwork at events is meeting and visiting people.

“It doesn’t matter what culture you’re from, whether you’re Indian, white, black, Asian or whatever. People can come and talk to you and share things,” Mountain said. “People are really interesting if you talk to them.”

In the future, Mountain hopes to teach someone else the art of bone carving and jewelry making.

“I’m looking for a young woman because when my cousin and I started we had to ask the men to show us what they were doing with the bone,” Mountain said. “They didn’t want to show us because we were women.”

The artist wishes to transmit her knowledge to other women so that they have the possibility of carving themselves.

For more information about her work or to request a custom order, contact Bird’s Jewelry at (605) 469-6147.