Piikani Nation (Blackfeet)
An enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, Deborah Magee is an award-winning artist who specializes in quillwork. Growing up on the Two Medicine River on the Blackfeet Reservation, with the mountain, prairie, and river right out her doorstep, she developed a natural love for the outdoors and respect for the animal and plant life.. She was always intrigued with quillwork, but it wasn't until later in life that she found a teacher who helped her develop her skill with the materials and push the boundaries of traditional forms. She strives to bring quillwork into the 21st century with her contemporary forms while still carrying the same beauty and meaning that it did for her grandmothers.
What is Quillwork?
The use of porcupine quill for decorative and aesthetic purposes is one of the more unique concepts in the arts of the North American Indian. Among the Blackfeet, porcupine quillwork was taught to the Long Ago People by thunder, a spirit being, and is a very ancient art medium. It has always been highly regarded among the Plains Indian People, both for the years it took to master the skill and the complexity of the work. In many tribes, quill workers belonged to societies similar to warrior societies, with initiation rights and privileges. Women often recounted their quill working accomplishments in much same way warriors recounted their battle victories. Quillworking is still considered to be a sacred art and one must be given the rights to do quill working in the traditional, sacred way. Deborah has been given the rights to quillworking and her hands blessed, in accordance with Blackfeet tradition.