Welcome Back!

I wanted to say it is great to be back and to see all of you here. I am the original owner of Black Otter Trading Post, both the dotcom and original store owner. My store name comes from Black Otter Trail in Billings Montana where I spent much of my younger years. My first actual storefront became a reality in 1995 in Heron Montana. I followed that with my internet or dotcom website in January 1999. The internet was slow in coming to remote Montana in dial-up form.

All of the items shown in photographs here were hand made from scratch. The buckskin I brain tanned myself or purchased from other accomplished tanners in the area. My wife and I would do the beadwork as the orders came in. She did most of it, including most of the later pieces that incorporated seed bead work. I would do some of the early style pieces that were using pony beads of the pre 1840 time period.

The rifles that I sold were mostly all muzzle loaders both finished and “in the white” or ready to finish with a small amount of labor. We also carried black powder and percussion caps, flints and many other trade goods both primitive and modern. My store also had a nice selection of medicinal herbs available to anyone who enjoyed natural healing. The main stock was focused around the craft beader as we carried many kilos of seed and pony beads. We also had many bundles of crow bead strings in a wide color variety. I have visited many of the actual bead importers to this country and stocked my store direct from the source.

I have had a great time attending rendezvous and pow-wows in many different states over the past decades. I have met a lot of great people and would like to welcome you back to my place on the web.

In past years we carried items like, native american beadwork, trade beads, beadwork, beaded gifts, braintanned buckskin, african trade beads, old time bead colors,
greasy color beads, greasy yellow and greasy blue, whitehearts, cobalts, chevron beads, russian faceted
beads, ghost beads, medicine crow beads, padre beads, crow beads, pony beads, seed beads.

Reproduction beaded items, Indian beadwork, french beads, dutch donuts, hudson bay ox eye beads,
cornaline d’ alleppos, green hearts, brass and copper beads, hairpipe, brass tacks, war shirts,
leggings, two hide buckskin dress, three hide dresses, capotes, muzzleloading rifles, hawken rifles, kentucky
rifles, custom rifles, flintlock rifles, percussion rifles, muzzleloading supplies, hand forged ironwork,
tomahawks, flint and steels, fire iron sets, camping gear, and pre 1840 gear.

I will include here some old stock photos from my old site and some of the original beadwork as well as the beads that were for sale. I no longer have those items for sale, just wanted to share those pictures for research if you need them. I will try and include discussions articles and some info on beads and beaded items as they fit. Check the photo archive for more pictures of trade beads and beadwork.



From the earliest times of pre history man has sought ways to adorn him or herself with baubles or beads. From Dentalium shells of the pacific northwest to Olivella shells thousands of years ago. Beads were made of natural products like shells and copper to man made material like glass. The whole world has seen production of these items for adornment over the time span of many years. Porcupine quills, turquoise, copper, catlanite, glass, coins, hammered metals, stone, and many other mediums have been used.

The first Americans used native materials and did not know or have access to glass beads for thousands of years. They seemed to be introduced to them by the early Spanish explorers. It seems the the first documented glass bead was found in Newfoundland, the site of Vinland. This site had been abandoned about 1347. It was a clear spherical bead and some thought it may have been part of a rosary.

Ol’ Chris Columbus even brought beads with him when he came to visit the Bahamas in 1492. He gave away strings of them to the Arawak Indians and that made them very happy as they had not seen anything like it.
This began a long legacy of beads as gifts for the native peoples of this great nation.


I wanted to add this ebook for those of you who have been seeking a beading guide of sorts. This may be what you are all asking about and I will put it here on the front page for easy reference.

The Complete Bead Guide