Samuel Thomas - Arts and Culture Wall of Fame
Samuel (Sam) Thomas is known as a meticulous researcher and uncompromising artist. In 1979, Sam
was encouraged by a mentor to resurrect the 18th and 19th century Iroquois beadwork styles. He
envisions breaking down cultural divisions through the sharing of knowledge and the creative process.
Sam is a self-taught artist through museum pieces, books, illustrations and collector pieces. He
developed and implemented his own style of completing various objects made of embossed threedimensional
beadwork. His work ranges from small whimsical items such as needle cases, various
holders, hair clips, and jewelry boxes, to much larger items such as purses, moccasins, cushions, and
various sized boxes. Well known for his intricate work, Sam was sought after to complete traditional
outfits for men and woman in television productions.
Some of Sam’s accomplishments include a series of successful collaborative beadwork workshops that
spanned two countries and involved 800 people of all races and nationalities. Building on the success of
that project, he turned his attention to reviving bead traditions in Kenya. Produced in cooperation with
North American organizations and the Kenya villages, this project culminated with the completion of a
six-foot fully beaded “Tree of Peace”.
Sam Thomas is the Creator and Curator of Ska-Ni-Kwat: The Power of the Good Mind, and Through the
Voices of Beads, a Royal Ontario Museum exhibition. He has been invited to participate in many
exhibitions including one at the United Nations Headquarters. His works are exhibited in permanent and
private collections in Canada and throughout the world.
Sam is responsible for the recovery of several “lost” techniques and masterminding an international
mission to garner respect for the Iroquois beadwork.