Alex & Shane Beeshligaii
Silver Jewelry

“I want people to be able to express themselves through my work. As long as it makes that individual happy or feel
inspired, that’s what I try to do with all my pieces.”


Cultural Community: Honaghaani Nahobani or Dine/Navajo
Location: Tucson

Alex(left) & Shane(right) Beeshligaii

Shane Beeshligaii
I’m a silversmith. I learned my artform from my dad over the course of my life. I started when I was around seven years old. I design anything from traditional Navajo jewelry to more of a modernized style of micro-inlay that my dad taught me. 

My family have been silversmiths since the Spanish first arrived in the Southwest. I have a great- great-grandfather named Atsidi iilneeh Beeshligaii, which means the maker of silver. My family passed the artform down for generations up until the early 1900’s when my family was more inclined to do railroad work or whatever means to get by. My father started silversmithing when he was in his mid-thirties and I always would loiter around as a kid and watch while he worked on his jewelry.

It was difficult growing up because I was a city Indian, I didn’t grow up on the reservation. 

Most interactions with people from my own tribe were on Sherman Indian High School grounds in Riverside CA, where my mother still teaches pottery and traditional beadwork. It was one of the last boarding schools in the United States. Growing up my mother would teach at the high school and she would always bring me and my brother around because this was one way for us to interact with our own native community. 

I would visit our father during our summer break or whenever we had vacation as a kid. Our parents were divorced and that was one way for me to become more immersed in my culture, and to learn about the culture and our history of our people. 

When I was seventeen, I moved to Tucson and stayed with my father.  As a teenager I’d make jewelry on the side to buy things like video games or clothes, even a laptop.

I constantly hear my father’s voice in my mind, critiquing my work regarding whether or not it’s polished enough, all the scratches are out, if everything looks nice, if all the stones are set correctly, or if I have to rework something. I always have him as a voice in my head, checking over me. At the same time, it’s me, holding my work to the standards that I’ve learned. 

I make jewelry because it’s the main way for me to keep in contact with my cultural heritage. To understand and embrace my culture and make a meaningful life in modern day society. I think there’s still room for advancement within jewelry. The one main focus of the work I’ve been learning over the last 30 years is micro-inlay which is my dad’s checkerboard pattern of overlay work.

I make whatever I’m inspired by. I want people to be able to express themselves through my work. As long as it makes that individual happy or feel inspired, that’s what I try to do with all my pieces. 

Check out this video by AZPM of Alex and Shane Beeshligaiis culture and their amazing silversmithing story!