Jean Roach : Hówašte Profile

July 19, 2018



Jean Roach’s goal, in her art and in her life, is to keep evolving.

During her early years as an artist, Jean explored a variety of media, including beadwork and leatherwork, before ultimately specializing in silversmithing. The process of learning this craft was shared with her family: Jean worked with her then-husband, her son, and her sister-in-law to master the complex technical steps of creating silver jewelry. Over the years, Jean’s motivation for creating her jewelry pieces has evolved from being a means of earning a living, to being a creative outlet for expressing her world view.

Born and raised in Rapid City, SD and originally from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Mnicoujou, Jean aspires to represent a Lakota style in her work. “We’re trying to do natural, and we’re trying to do local,” she says.

Jean noticed that her most popular sellers had been pieces incorporating turquoise, but she recognized that turquoise it is not a natural stone for the prairie areas. In an effort to incorporate more local stones into her pieces, Jean has been using a rock tumbling machine to prepare prairie agates and even fairburns, though she says, laughing, “They are so beautiful, I don’t even want to cut them!”



Creating connections with her customers has been a powerful learning experience for Jean. She feels strongly about establishing a relationship of respect and trust with the people who buy her pieces. “Selling to tourists, I’ve really expanded my views of people. You meet a whole different group of people who aren’t from here, and they’re totally cool. It makes you feel better that you can expand in that way, learning from them and selling jewelry to them.”

Jean’s experience at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), has influenced the direction of her future work. She says, “I want to reflect on what I am and what I’m about. We came back from Standing Rock and I feel like the pieces I’ve done before are so typical, in a way. I was always on the survival level, and I still am, but I want to add more perspective to it, including the world views that I support. In that way, I can continue on bringing that art to a whole new level, explaining my cause.”

As Jean continues her evolution as an artist, she is incorporating new materials such as copper and fringes, and new techniques like wire wrapping.

Of her years of experience as an artist Jean says, “You expand your world view from your art. You’re always learning, no matter what.”

Visit The Heritage Center’s online gift shop to purchase Jean’s work!


Photos © Red Cloud Indian School



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