Mary Elk, Quilts and Beads

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I'm Mary Conklin Elk. I live near New Town, and my parents were William Conklin, Sr., and my mother was Ella Many Ribs. I grew up on the reservation. I went to school in Elbowoods and Shell Creek. I moved to New Town in 1951, and I'm a resident here since 1951.

I'm kind of creative. I like to do things, and I like to learn things. I learned how to do quilting back in the Forties. There was an old lady . . . I used to babysit her grandchildren. She was the one that showed me how to do sewing. She gave me needles and thread, and some material that she had. I learned how to do my quillwork back in the 1960s from Dora Smith, and later on from Carrie Brady. And I do beadwork

I learned how to do pottery, also, back in the 60s, and worked for the Three Tribes Stoneware. Now I'm retired and staying home, and doing sewing, making star quilts and moccasins. I work with brain-tanned leather . . . that's just like working with a cloth. I use sinew. When you want to make moccasins, you have to get the footprint first. Then you outline the top, and that's how you cut the hide to make the moccasins. You can't do it without the footprint.