My friend's interest in and knowledge about my bead weaving and bead embroidery began to ring a bell--of course! my friend is Native American. I suddenly felt foolish, as if my several years dabbling in decorative beading could compare with the knowledge of the generations of his family steeped in the relationship between Native Americans and beads.
Here is an interesting site filled with little informational tidbits about the historical significance of beads in Native American culture, both as a form of commerce and for ceremonial and decorative uses. And here are some books that I can't wait to get my hands on! I am just beginning to scratch the surface in learning about the tradition of Native American beadwork, so I still have MUCH to learn. Sufficed to say, my curiosity has been piqued and I can't wait to learn more.
Here are some examples of traditional seed bead colors commonly used in Native American beading, all colors of seed beads can be found here.