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Erica; Native American Treasure

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Native American Treasure
Program Number


Series Description

Needlework series with Erica Wilson. “Erica Wilson, noted American authority on needlework, invites the viewer to explore the exciting possibilities of indulging his creative and artistic talents. In this series of color videotaped 15 minute programs she illustrates the wide vocabulary of stitches used in many types of embroidery including traditional crewel, needlepoint, bargello, and crewel point.

As well as demonstrating these stitches, Erica gives professional hints on creating useful and decorative objects. She encourages personalizing an original or derived design through the selection of motif, materials, stitch, color, texture, and size. C. 1971-2 Series release date: 1971

Program Description

This episode celebrates American Indian decorative arts traditions, and Erica begins by showing several pieces, many of which are from the collection of Harvard’s Peabody Museum, including a beaded pipe bag, medicine bag, and cradle board, a woven basket featuring the squash blossom motif, “false embroidery” baskets from the Aleutian Islands, a Navajo rug, beaded moccasins, and Zuni petit point inlaid turquoise jewelry. She also notes that pants that she wears in this episode, which are made of buckskin and were decorated with totemic images by Tlingit artists in Alaska.

Erica encourages the viewer to be inspired by American Indian designs and indigenous people’s use of natural materials to create “Indian” needlepoint projects in earth tones, demonstrating techniques including couching, pulled work, and eyelet hole. Erica works on several projects in this episode, each of which was inspired by a piece at the Peabody, including needlepoint tablemats decorated with couching in jute, a needlepoint “Navajo-style” rug made using reverse Gobelin stitch, a crewelpoint picture of an Indian in profile wearing feathered regalia, and a wearable recreation of petit point turquoise jewelry in bullion knots.

It should be noted that this episode of Erica is very much a product of its time and that the Indian-ness of these projects is almost laughable today. That said, however, Erica does show a real respect for American Indian artists and does note that American Indians are far from a vanished people, with all of these arts still being practiced in the present day.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


MacLeod, Margaret I. (Series Producer)
Chicago: “Erica; Native American Treasure,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 24, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_57D0B18F1B2E44D0AE0B3BA8D06F2E83.
MLA: “Erica; Native American Treasure.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 24, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_57D0B18F1B2E44D0AE0B3BA8D06F2E83>.
APA: Erica; Native American Treasure. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_57D0B18F1B2E44D0AE0B3BA8D06F2E83
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