From bare bones to gorgeous jewelry, the Oklahoma artist wastes nothing

MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma (KFOR) – The bones of winter are cold as death and bare as a leafless branch in January.

But the season doesn’t stop the likes of Bird Mountain.

“It keeps me going,” she says.

She’s a proud Dakota, proving that even the coldest of days holds life beneath the frigid surface.

Mountain informs us, “I just got a freezer full of bones.”

Bird takes the piles of buffalo bones she collects from sources throughout the Great Plains and works to reveal the life within.

“I like the legs. I like the ribs,” she continues. “The buffalo is our sacred animal. There is much prayer in our work.”

She started antlers more than 30 years ago and recovered from addictions that kept her in her own brand of winter prison.

“I’ve been clean for 31 years now,” says Bird, “and it’s helped my own healing process.”

Buffalo bones turned out to be the best fit for what she wanted to do.

Now, each of the pieces she creates is its own brand of prayer, gratitude for keeping her on the right path, and hope she finds the right person.

Much of their bone jewelry is given away.

“I can’t decide,” she explains. “My belief is that if someone needs something, it will go to them.”

The bones that Mountain uses make a good background for color inlays, which are ground almost to a powder and then applied with glue and the excess sanded off.

Mountain shows us a piece of raw bone and wonders, “Isn’t it amazing that something so ordinary can look like this.”

Even the smallest fragment of bone could have a use.

True to their people and their own history, nothing is thrown away.

“I have bone plates. I’ve used pretty much everything there is,” she points out.

Winter is less a time of death and more a time of sleep, waiting for just the right catalyst to reveal the hidden life that always lay within.

“I’d rather stick to bones,” she laughs.

Mountain Bird sells their buffalo bone jewelry at Pow Wows across Oklahoma.

It will be installed in Concho, Oklahoma on January 28th and 29th.

On February 4, she plans to sell her wares at a benefit powwow at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman.


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