Gift Shop Artist | Amanda Simmons

The colorful and intricate materials used in traditional Lakota art often capture the attention of young eyes and tiny hands. Red Cloud graduate Amanda Simmons ’04 picked up her first beading materials when she was only eight years old, while growing up in the community of Oglala, South Dakota. 

“Encouraged by watching my mother bead barrettes, I asked if I could have some beads, too,“ she explains. 

Her mother gave her a tin of beads, some canvas and a spool of thread. Amanda imitated her mother’s lazy-stitch, a technique commonly used in Lakota beadwork, using simple patterns. By the time she was 14, she had completed her own set of fully beaded leggings and moccasins. She entered the pair of moccasins into the Oglala Lakota Nation Invitational Art Show and ultimately won Best of Show.  

Amanda’s love of beadwork has followed her wherever her education and career have taken her. After graduating from Red Cloud in 2004, Amanda enlisted in the Navy and was honorably discharged in 2012. That same year, she earned her degree from American River College in Sacramento, California. Today Amanda lives and works outside of Sacramento, running The Laughing Beads, her contemporary beadwork business,. She is currently developing her own website so she can better market her work to online customers. 

Amanda also dedicates large amounts of her free time to making fully beaded regalia, combining classic Lakota geometric designs with contemporary patterns and materials. She says she creates regalia for her nieces and nephews free of charge “to encourage a positive way of life.”  

Now, Amanda’s own daughter Samantha is following in her footsteps, learning to edge beadwork at only six years old. Amanda believes it is “very important to encourage our children to imitate a positive way of life through art.“ To help sustain the traditional art of beading, Amanda also helped to create a beading circle with other artists in southern California. Together they share cultural beadwork designs, beadwork knowledge and, most importantly, laughter. 

For Amanda, creating her work in a positive atmosphere is another way to sustain Lakota culture. It is a widely held belief, she explains, that if you create your beadwork in a happy environment, the person who receives it will enjoy good and positive experiences while using that piece. Her hope is to continue to share that positivity through traditional Lakota art for many years to come.  

You can find more work by Lakota artists in The Heritage Center Gift Shop, both in-store and online:


Meet Our Artists - Shawn Espinosa, Parfleche


Meet Our Artists - Miranda Red Cloud, Porcupine Quillwork


 New Exhibit Looks at the Evolution of Lakota Quilting

Photos © 2016 Red Cloud Indian School, Inc.
last updated: May 16, 2016