Archive for the 'feather' Category

Object: Quiver, Bow, and Arrows

Figure 1 Comanche arrows from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 1 Comanche arrows from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 2 Comanche Quiver from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 2 Comanche Quiver from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 3 Comanche bow from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 3 Comanche bow from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

E/1930/1/52
E/1930/1/53
E/1930/1/54
Quiver, Bow, and Arrows
Comanche
North America: Southern Plains
Date: 1930
Materials: Wood, feathers, sinew, leather

These objects are common tools when it comes to studying Native Americans. Each tribe has their own way of making bows and arrows and different styles for use. These objects were used by the Comanche people. The bow is 42” long. The arrows are between approximately 22”-26” in length.

There are many things the Comanche are well-known for: one being horsemanship and another being the ability to successfully use the bow while riding on horseback. The size of the bow and arrows are short, making them very maneuverable while riding. Being able to aim easily from side to side while riding was crucial to survival for the Comanche. Not only is the length of the bow important, but the strength of it is also important. The wood used typically is Osage Orange or Bo Dark wood. Sinew is a very strong cordage obtained from the tendons of bison. Sinew is used for many different resources among plains Native Americans. The Comanche used it for many different reasons, and in this case it was tied together to form the string of the bow.

The quiver is used to carry the bow and arrows together, each having a special spot inside the quiver. The quiver is made primarily from bison or cow hide. The quiver can be decorated in a number of ways with beadwork and fringe. One resource implemented in the quiver is called the ‘boss man.’ This is an object with a round circular base that fits in the bottom of the quiver. The base is attached to a handle used to easily pull out the arrows that rest within the quiver.

Figure 4 Comanche Bow demonstration at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center

Figure 4 Comanche Bow demonstration at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center

The arrows in this collection are short in length to match the bow. The arrows measure between 22”-26” in length. This is very similar to other Comanche arrows studied. The arrow points were typically made from flint, but the Comanche adopted steel points after contact with new European settlers. The wood of the arrows is made from the straightest wood possible, dog wood. The fletching on the back end of the arrows is the Comanche style of Red Tail Hawk feathers. The tough material of sinew is used to tie on the arrow fletching.

To learn more about Comanche bows, arrows, and quivers, take a look at the below videos produced by the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center:

[Jared Wahkinney]

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJkGM-GNRPI.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sez4GNIOaNY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlVaE1j6efY

 

Object: Feather Headdress

E/48/8/15
United States of America
1930′-1940s
Materials: Feathers, Leather, Dye, Glass Beads

This feather headdress was worn by one time University of Oklahoma mascot Little Red, who was mascot up until the early 1970s. He was a Native American and would wear tradition tribal dress and an iconic headdress known as a war bonnet. Little Red would perform on the sidelines at football and basketball games, and he would preform war dances when the team would score a touch down.

Little Red became controversial in the minds of many in the 1960s. The ethics of using a Native American as a sports team mascot became a subject of much debate at the University and in the greater Native American community. On the surface, the discussion appeared like it was between Indians and non-Indians, but the truth of the matter was it was far more complicated than that. This debate was centered in the Native community eventually bringing many Native families into odds with each other. Families and friends couldn’t agree on whether or not Little Red was an acceptable depiction of their culture. In the end, Little Red became the first Native American mascot to be removed from a college setting.

In the late 1960s, many groups began to petition for the removal of Little Red. The National Indian Youth Council, claimed that, “Little Red serves as a symbol of the physical oppression and cultural degradation that American Indians had faced in the past.” For all of those fighting against Little Red, there seemed to be just as devoted a crowd fighting for him.

Randy Palmer, in particular, was noted as being particularly invested in saving Little Red. The Daily Oklahoma reported that Palmer went so far as to run on field at the OU – Wisconsin game in September of the 1970 season, and preformed in the capacity of Little Red to an ecstatic crowd even though the mascot had already been banned. The controversy over Little Red is still relevant today. With discussions and disputes over mascots and team names in college and professional athletics taking center stage, it is important to remember all of the cases that have come before. It is important to remember Little Red. If you would like to learn more about some of the debate surrounding the topic of Indian mascots, watch the video below from a panel discussion at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian:

Work Cited

DeSpain, Matthew S.
2013  Little Red Died for Your Sins: Playing Indian at the University of Oklahoma and the Rise and Fall of Little Red. Native Matters The Journal of Native American Studies. http://66.147.244.221/~nativema/2013/04/11/50/

[Abbey Take]

Object: ‘Uli ‘Uli (Gourd Rattle)

E/1944/1/170
Hawaii, United States of America
Materials: Gourd, Feathers, Plant Material

An‘Uli ‘Uli is made from either a hollowed and dried gourd, or from a coconut shell and features colorful feathers on the handle.  Gourd rattles like these are made by people who used them for Hula ceremonies and performances.  The Hula is a highly regarded part of Hawai’ian culture and life; Hula creates continuity for history and tradition.  After American colonization of the Hawai’ian islands, leadership positions began to resemble kings’ courts of Europe, and Hulas were a way to showcase prestige.  Kings and Queens, such as King Kamehameha and Queen Liliuokalani, would hire groups from Halau Hulas, or Hula Schools, from surrounding communities to perform for the courts.

A mele, or chant, is a very important part of the Hula tradition, but an equally significant part is the movements of the body and hand gestures during the song.  Each hand gesture and hip sway contributes meaning to the song and helps in the process of transmitting a story.  Some mele’s are about the reign of kings and queens throughout time, some are about cultural history. Topics include how Hawai’ians came to occupy the islands and gods and goddess, such as Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.

There are several other implements used to enhance the sound of a mele, including the Ili ‘Ili, the Puili, and the Kala’au. In the past, these implements were all found or made by hand by the person who would be performing with it. Today there is a market for these types of items as souvenirs for tourists, or for amateur and journeyman level performances.

A modern revival of the Hula tradition began in the 1960s.  This renaissance of Hawai’ian culture has helped tourism commerce.  A festival celebrating the Hula tradition called Merrie Monarch Festival is held each year in Hilo, Hawai’i.  The Merrie Monarch Festival was a way to bring Hawai’ians together, and also served as a way to promote tourism.  Today, Halau Hula groups travel from as far as Japan and California to compete and to share.  There have been many successful attempts at creating continuity of the Hawai’ian culture beyond the islands, as we hear in this NPR interview. Here is a link to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum’s Ethnology Database, which is located in Honolulu, HI. It has a broad and expanding collection of all things Hawai’ian and Hula related.Check out this video which exemplifies the use of the ‘uli ‘uli in a ‘Wahine Kahiko’ or Womens’ Traditional Style Hula:

Work Cited

Architect of the Capital.
2014  Explore Capital Hill: Kamehameha i. http://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/national-statuary-hall-collection/kamehameha-i

My Hero.
2010  Women Heros: Liliuokalani. http://www.myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=Liliuokalani_dnhs_US_2010

National Public Radio
2003  All Things Considered. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=1386115&m=1386116

[Emily McKenzi]

Object: Kachina Doll

E/78/1/35
Hopi, Arizona
Materials: Cotton Wood root, Horse Hair, Paint, Feathers

The Hopi live in what is now northeastern Arizona. Their reservation includes twelve villages on three mesas. Agriculture is one of the central aspects of Hopi life. Though they live in less then ideal conditions for farming, the Hopi have adapted to the arid climate by practicing agricultural methods such as dry farming and using irrigation. This does not mean, however, that rain is not an important part of Hopi life. It is in fact extremely important and something to be prayed for. One of the ways it is prayed for is through Kachina dances. Kachinas are spiritual beings that act as messengers for the Hopi, each one controlling a different aspect of the universe.

This carved figure is a Hopi kachina doll, created to represent a spiritual being in Hopi religion. There are over 400 kachina deities in Hopi religion. Traditional knowledge is an important part of Hopi culture. Hopi elders pass their knowledge on through the telling of stories. These stories include lessons on what it means to be Hopi. Kachina dolls are used to teach children about ritual knowledge. This kachina doll is a duck kachina, also known as the Pawikya kachina. It is believed to be a messenger to the rain gods for the Hopi people. This doll was created so that young Hopi children could learn about this deity’s role in the universe. Some kachinas teach children lessons on how to behave. When children misbehave, they are threatened by the idea of being taken away by the Soyoko kachina. This deity inspires good behavior in misbehaving children.

Hopi carvers produce kachina dolls using the root of a cottonwood tree. Traditionally, dolls are carved using a single piece of wood. First, the bark is removed to form a smooth surface. Several different tools are used in the carving process such as hammers, chisels, and knives. Once the carved surface is sanded smooth, the carver is ready to paint. Customarily, kachinas are painted using native mineral or vegetal pigments. However, kachina dolls made today for the open market are painted with modern dyes and paints. The duck kachina is decorated with clouds to represent its role as the rain messenger. Each doll is painted with its own unique symbols. Details are added last such as the red horsehair and feathers attached to the duck kachina. Other attachments include headpieces, weapons, and jewelry. For a closer look at the Kachina carving process watch this video.

Work Cited

2009. Agriculture. Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. http://www8.nau.edu/~hcpo-p/youth.html

2013. Reporter’s Notebook: Hopi Sacred Objects Returned Home. National Public Radio: All Things Considered. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=213560746&m=213598104

Bohl Gerke, Sarah.
2008. Nature Culture and History at the Grand Canyon: Hopi Reservation. Arizona State University. http://grandcanyonhistory.clas.asu.edu/sites_adjacentlands_hopireservation.html

2010. Hopi Katsina Dolls: 100 Years of Carving. Heard Museum. http://www.heard.org/katsinadolls/faq.html

[Katherine Taylor]

Object: Ornament

E/1956/2/32
Feather ornament (or “tail”)
Machiguena
Peru
ca 1955
Materials: Feathers, cloth twine

This feather ornament is described in the Ethnology catalog as a “tail” that is meant to be attached to the back of a man’s robe, called a manchakintsi or cushma. The donor that collected with particular “tail” also donated the cushma it was meant to go with, E/1956/2/11, shown on the right. These objects were made by a member of the Machiguenga tribe of Peru. The Machiguenga are a part of the Arawakan linguistic family, a group of languages spoken throughout South and Central America. The Machiguenga live in the upper mountain rain forest of Southeastern Peru. The Machiguenga grow manioc, bananas, maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts and a variety of other crops in small agricultural plots cleared out of the forest. They supplement their diet by hunting, fishing and gathering other native foods from the forest. Feather ornaments, especially crowns and necklaces are popular amongst the Machiguenga.

Do you know any additional information on this type of ornament? Can you identify the type of feathers used? Let us know what you know. Provide a comment to this weblog or via email to dcswan@ou.edu. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Headdress

E/1945/2/1
Hair roach headdress
Unknown tribe
North America: Plains
ca. 1900
Materials: Hair, bone, feather, cloth, and metal

The hair roach headdress has been a popular form of personal adornment amongst Native American tribes since at least the 19th century. The origins of this style headdress are unclear but some have suggested it was influenced by the red crest of the Pileated Woodpecker, or the style of “roaching” a horse’s mane, or was an adaptation of the “Mohawk” hairstyle.

Hair roaches like this one are made by attaching bundles of hair to a base cord. The base cord is then sewn together in concentric loops, starting at the inside of the roach and working outward. A “spreader” holds the hair of the roach open and helps to attach the ties that are used to secure the roach to the wearer’s head. The size and shape of the spreader affects how the hair of the roach stands and changes the overall look of the roach. Spreaders can be made of rawhide, bone, or metal. This example of a child sized roach from the Sam Noble Museum has a bone spreader, possibly from the scapula of a bison and the hair appears to be either deer or horse.  In modern Fancy Dance regalia, feathers are attached to the spreader on either a “rocker” or a “spinner.” These attachments are designed to make the feathers move more vigorously when dancing.

The following video demonstrates how to care for and store a porcupine hair roach headdress. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Headdress

E/1982/11/9
Headdress
Niitsítapi (aka. Blackfoot Confederacy)
North America: Northern Plains or Southern Canada
unknown date (likely early 20th century)
Materials: Felt, ermine (or weasel) fur, feathers, glass beads, wood, and cotton cloth

This headdress has been attributed to the Niitsítapi people of the northern United States and southern Canada. Niitsítapi, also known as the Blackfoot Confederacy, consists of four separate yet related tribes. These tribes include the Aapátohsipikáni (or North Peigan), Aamsskáápipikani (Piegan Blackfeet or South Piegan), Káínaa (Kainai Nation), and the Siksikáwa (or Siksika Nation “Blackfoot”). These groups share a common dialect of the Algonquin language, they also historically worked together for mutual defense, and frequently intermarry.

The fur found on this headdress comes from ermine pelts. Ermine (Mustela erminea), sometimes called short tailed weasels or stoat, are a species of small carnivorous weasel that is common throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. They were recently introduced in New Zealand as well, and have since become a pest species causing catastrophic losses to native bird species. Ermine live in a wide variety of habitats including: woodlands, marshes, and open areas adjacent to forests or shrub borders. While ermine spend most of their time on the ground they can also climb trees and swim. Ermine use tree roots, hollow logs, stone walls, and rodent burrows as dens. Ermine are carnivores that hunt primarily at night. They primarily eat small mammals of rabbit size and smaller but, when prey is scarce, they can also eat birds, eggs, worms, frogs, fish, and insects. In severe climates, ermine frequently hunt under snow or in burrows and can survive entirely on small rodents.

Similar headdresses can be found at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, the British Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and others. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]


Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

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