The Noli Beading Club is synonymous with culture, creativity and camaraderie

High school cultural teacher Tashina Miranda Ornelas, left, shows Monique Russell a technique to use to bead a pair of chandelier earrings during a recent Beading Club meeting at Noli Indian School. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special for Valley News

Students attending the Noli Indian School on the Soboba Indian Reservation of Luiseño have the opportunity to join the Beading Club, taught by high school cultural teacher Tashina Miranda Ornelas. Membership has grown since its introduction about four years ago. The school serves students in grades six through 12, and many of them have been part of the club since its inception.

The after-school cultural program meets regularly and pearls can join at any time. Ornelas began teaching beading as part of his middle school cultural class. This course was mainly intended to teach the students how to make basket weaving, but they wanted to learn other things.

“When kids want to know something, I take the initiative to provide them with what they want to learn and bring it to my classroom,” Ornelas said. “Beadwork and basket weaving are similar in that they both require patience and meticulousness.”

She said the best way for her to teach others is to show how she learned from family and friends, letting students incorporate their own tribe and family protocols into what they learn. .

Some of the students Ornelas taught in middle school are now high school juniors and members of the Beading Club. She said they are great at helping some of the newbies learn alongside them. About twenty regularly attend the extracurricular club. She encourages Noli staff members to attend as well.

“It connects them to each other and to their community,” she said.

Currently teaching middle school English, Richard Moreno was born and raised in New Mexico and is of Pueblo people, specifically a Tiwa community. He adheres to and participates in the annual cycle of ceremonial events and continues to practice ancient traditions at home. He has also taught history and science at Noli for the past six years and joins the after-school club whenever he gets the chance.

“Having students see a man trying to bead makes them connect to their gentle, patient side, which is very important,” he said.

In the past, Moreno taught students how to make moccasins that included beads.

“A craftsman is a craftsman,” he said. “I have basic skills, and it’s the same concept. It also helps you relax.

Ornelas said one of the challenges of beadwork is that it takes dexterity to work with such small objects, but there are many benefits to working with beads.

“Everything we do is practical; it’s a matter of patience and hard work,” Ornelas said. “Beadwork is perhaps children’s first introduction to being patient with themselves.”

She said club members work on anything they love to create. Nashashuk Resvaloso makes custom beaded hats, Ciara Ramos makes lanyards, and Tatianna Briones likes to make earrings.

“I’ve noticed that beading helps them stay calm and be more focused,” she said. “Some of my students sell their items in pop-ups, so they’ve made a business out of beadwork, which is great.”

A few created community social media accounts to take custom orders and others created their creations and sold the finished product at public events. Bespoke work involves the customer choosing the style and colors of the item they wish to have made.

Ornelas herself started a side business doing custom and freestyle beadwork less than five years ago. She also stays busy raising eight children while commuting to Soboba from northern San Diego County each weekday.

“Freestyle is always about what I love to do, but custom work challenges me, and I like to challenge myself,” she said. “I wish I could do this all day, but your energy goes into these creations, and you have to give yourself breaks and do other things.”

Ornelas said she has always pearled.

“From a medicinal space creating protective collars, hats, baby bracelets and other items, it’s always been a family tradition,” she said.

“I teach the cultural curriculum from my learnings and experience – I don’t teach from a specific tribe because the reality is that everyone teaches in family-based communities,” Ornelas said. . “I can continue my teachings, pass them on to the students and encourage them to discuss them with their family members. It’s a great icebreaker for intergenerational conversations.

She said her beads are also “mindful of the tradition of most Californians that the first thing they do is always give someone a gift, whether it’s a lanyard, chandelier earrings, a basket or bird skirt, like the ones we make for Soboba Tribal Preschool children. The main purpose of this tradition is to focus on the need to always take care of people.

Ornelas said the club is also a great social outlet. She offers a monthly theme to give some direction to students, especially newer ones. For December, it was about teaching them the ins and outs of making chandelier earrings.

“This is the first year that students have animated the theme. In October, Lanise Luna (from Pala) taught knot earrings and later this winter, Iyana Briones (from Soboba) will be teaching her classmates how to create wrapped hoop earrings,” she said. declared. “Pearls can bring their work home and also come to class during lunch and nutrition breaks to work on their projects. My door is always open.”

Ornela said she will expand some of the classes she teaches to include two on native plants, two on California Indian history and two on basket weaving. In December, after acorn season, the students learned how to process the traditional staple food of their ancestors. She said there is freedom of choice for the curriculum she teaches in her cultural classes which is based on the seasons.

“Parents expect (Noli’s) students to be immersed in the culture in all of their classrooms and the culture can be translated into everything,” she said. “Soboba makes it easy for us to offer cross-cultural programs where we work directly with the environmental and cultural department of the Soboba tribe and our science and math departments at Noli. It’s a community, and Soboba fosters that kind of community so that we can do blended courses for things that are relevant to our students and their life experiences. It’s so good because that’s when these young people develop their identity.

At a club meeting shortly before the students took a three-week winter break, Iyana “Tot” Briones was working on a project using a Peyote Stitch. She’s been in the Beading Club since she was in sixth grade.

“I try to bead every day and this club always teaches me new ways to bead,” she said. “It helps me when I’m bored and it helps me with anxiety.”

Ciara Ramos, also involved since sixth grade, said that beading forgets a lot of things for her and she enjoys beading even when she’s not in school. She was working on a medallion with the colors and logo of Noli’s school that had been commissioned by Principal Donovan Post.

Nevaeh Ochoa said many members of her family used to bead, including her grandfather and uncle.

“I think it’s really fun,” Ochoa said.

“I feel good that Soboba has these young people doing these things, they are great role models,” Ornelas said. “They are committed and work hard to create sacred things.”