Archive for the 'glass' Category

Object: Feather Headdress

United States of America
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.

[Abbey Take]

Object: Moccasins

E/50/8/8 a-b
Kiowa, Oklahoma
Materials: Native tanned leather, sinew, glass beads, copper tinklers

These moccasins, created from tanned buffalo hide sewn with sinew and decorated with glass beads and metal tinklers were worn by a Kiowa man in the early 20th century. The word moccasin, derived from the Algonquin language, actually comes from the ‘V’ shape of the instep, or the front part of the shoes where the toes would rest. Moccasins come in a variety of shapes, styles, sizes and colors depending on the culture that creates them. The Kiowa, for example, are known for their two-pieced, hard sole moccasins that were decorated with hexagonal and triangular beaded shapes. The Kiowa are also known for their sewing pattern called the “lazy stitch technique.” This technique is done by pushing the needle under the top layer of skin on a hide, but not all the way through, as with many other types of stitches. The Kiowa have a unique style that is portrayed through their material culture.

The Kiowa are a Native American tribe whose roots lie in the great plains. Though the plains are known to have many grasses, the Northern plains environment still contains various flora and sharp rocks that can harm a person’s feet. Hard soled moccasins were created for protection from the environment. The Kiowa are known for their hard sole moccasins, which allowed them able to maneuver in the plains environment with ease. This was especially important during the winter months because the moccasins served as protection from the cold.

Aside from being used for protection the moccasins also held a cultural value. They were worn with traditional dance regalia and used during spiritual ceremonies. The Sun Dance was among the many ceremonials  where traditional dress was worn. Today, the Kiowa continue to ritualize dancing within their community. The Gourd Dance and the Black Leggings Society dances are performed every year by members of the tribe. Watch the video below to see a Kiowa War Dance song.

Work Cited

Native American Languages.
Native American Indian Moccasins.

Open Inquiry Archive.
What Makes These Things Kiowa?.

Prindle, Tara.
Native American Clothing: Overview of the Moccasin.

Texas Behind History.
The Kiowa.

[Alyxandra Stanco]

Object: Infant Moccasins

E2010.31 a-b
Plains Region, United States of America
ca. 1935
Tanned hide glass beads, sinew
Gift of Lazona Cochnauer Health

Moccasins like these are known as a hard-soled type. These particular moccasins are made from two different pieces of hide. The rawhide sole is stitched to the soft, tanned hide body with sinew. Hard-soled moccasins were common among many Plains Indian tribes in the early 20th century. These tribes were known as bison hunters, who followed the bison herds across the North American continent. Since the Plains Indians from this period were a mobile group of people they needed footwear that could withstand rough or rocky terrain.

The type of beadwork on these moccasins became widespread after European contact. The European soldiers brought with them glass bead and would trade with Native communities. The introduction of glass beads to Plains Indian tribes sparked a revolution in the decorative treatment of garments. Before the availability of glass beads, Plains women would decorate their clothes with paint, shells, and flattened quills. It was a lot of work to make beads out of shell or to flatten porcupine quills.  With the introduction of glass beads, Plains women could make more extensive designs. The small glass beads are available in a variety of colors.

Plains Indian beading is a fashion trend that is still alive and prospering today. Both men and women participate in the craft. Moccasins along with other beaded works of art continue to be made by Native artists throughout North America.

Check out this video about Greg Bellanger a contemporary Ojibwe beadworker from Minnesota.

Work Cited

Hämäläinen, Pekka
2011  Hunting. in Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. eds. David J. Wishart.

Kansas Historical Society
1993  Native American Beadwork. in Kansapedia.

2014  Rawhide.

2014 Sinew.

Prindle, Tara
1994  Native American Clothing, Overview of Footwear; Moccasins. in NativeTech: Native
American Technology and Art.

[Madison Ennenga]

Object: Fish Hook

E/1955/6/134 b
Fish hook
Malaita, Solomon Islands
Circa 1940
Sea shell, tortoise shell, glass beads, fiber

The shaft of this fish hook, made from sea shell, measures just under three inches. The barb is made of tortoise shell and is attached to the shaft by fiber twine. Also attached to one end of the shaft is a set of glass beads on a fiber string. It was made on the island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands around 1940.

These types of hooks have long been used in the Solomon Islands to catch one particular kind of fish, bonito.

Bonito are medium size fish that swim in large schools. They are similar to tuna, but smaller. The people of the Solomon Islands have relied on Pacific Bonito for thousands of years and continue to do so today.

Historically, trolling was the most effective way for Solomon Islanders to catch bonito. Indeed, that is how this hook was designed to be used. They are not meant to be cast and reeled in over and over until a fish is caught. Instead, fishermen cast these hooks out behind their boats and move through schools of bonito. The bonito react to the quickly moving hooks by biting them. No bait is necessary. The action and color of the beads attached to the end of the hook encourage bonito to bite as both mimic distressed or dying baitfish.

This hook and the trolling method associated with it is just one of the many unique tools and strategies Solomon Islanders developed to take advantage of the plentiful marine resources around them. While this technique is probably the most ancient among them, others such as kite fishing, might be considered more ingenious.

Kite fishing in the Solomon Islands is used primarily for catching small needlefish. With mouths too small for seashell/tortoise shell hooks such as the one profiled here, fishermen of the Solomon Islanders learned to utilize spider webs and kites to catch these fast fish. Watch the video below to learn more about this unconventional fishing technique.

Work Cited

California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Marine Sport Fish Identification: Tuna & Mackerels. mspcont1.asp

Division of Ethnology: Database of Ethnology. Fish hook.

Infoplease. Solomon Islands.

Oxford Dictionaries. Definition of Troll.

Solomon Islands Department of Commerce, Employment and Tourism. Malaita Province.

[Jacob Boren]

Object: Necklace

Baffinland Inuit
North America: Canada: Baffin Island
prior to 1959
Materials: Glass, bone, ivory, beak or claw, and cord

This trade bead necklace has been attributed to the Baffinland Inuit tribe from Baffin Island, Canada. The Baffinland Inuit are one of the groups that make up the Central Eskimo, along with the Copper, Iglulik, Netsilik, and Caribou Inuit. Baffinland Inuit, like other Inuit groups, traditionally lived in semi-permanent winter settlements. These winter settlements served as a hub for smaller seasonal camps that were utilized for hunting, fishing and gathering of specific materials throughout the warmer months of the year. Marine animals like seals, beluga whales, walrus, narwhal, and polar bear were important year round resources for the Inuit people. While in the summer, caribou, birds (and eggs), small game, berries, roots, and shellfish were also available. Today, the Baffinland Inuit live in six main communities: Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island), Clyde River, Kimmirut (formerly Lake Harbour) and Cape Dorset.

This necklace, like other traditional Inuit arts and crafts, is made of bone and ivory from marine animals. In addition to these traditional materials this necklace also features large glass trade beads. Glass beads were first introduced to native North Americans by European explorers. Prior to European contact tribal groups had been making beads from bone, shell, stone, and other materials for many years. Early glass trade beads came mostly from Venice and Holland, later Poland and Czechoslovakia also became major trade bead manufacturing hubs. Trade in glass beads was very common throughout North America, with blue beads being particularly prized. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Hairbrush

North America: Plains
ca. 1890
Materials: Porcupine tail, wood, glass beads

Haircare has always been an important part of the daily human routine. Besides just maintaining a clean and healthy appearance, hairstyles can express individuality or identify an individual as part of a specific group. Changing your hairstyle can even make a difference in how you are perceived by others.  A different hair color could effect how old you look, and a different cut or style could make you seem either rebellious or old-fashioned. Pre-contact Native American tribes were no less conscious of hair care and styling that we are today, and they had nearly as many styling products. Hair was shined with animal fat, and was sometimes colored or decorated with colored clay. Some tribes even had techniques to lengthen their hair in a way similar to modern hair extensions or weaves. Certain hairstyles were more closely associated with one tribal group than others. For instance, men of the Kanien’kehake (Mohawk) tribe were known for shaving portions of their head, men of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe tended to prefer a pompadour style, while women of the Hopi tribe twisted their hair around circular bands to create a style that resembled butterfly wings on the side of their heads.

This object is a hairbrush made from the tail of a porcupine. It is made by sewing the bottom portion of the porcupine’s tail, where the quills tend to be smaller, around a wooden stick. The seam where the tail is sewn together is frequently decorated with glass beadwork. This type of hairbrush was common among many plains tribes. Porcupines are a type of plant eating rodent best known for their quills. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is the largest species of porcupine in the world. A porcupine may have as many as 30,000 quills on its body. The quills are a special type of hair with barbed tips on the ends. Quills are solid at the tip and base and hollow for most of the shaft. Porcupines use their quills for self defense but, can not “shoot” them at predators. Instead the quills simply detach easily from the porcupine’s body on contact, typically ending up in the mouth or claws of the attacker.  [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Moccasins

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy)
North America: Northeast
Materials: leather, cloth, glass beads

This pair of moccasins is believed to have been made by a member of the

Map by Robert Scott

Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee is a group of six associated tribal groups, the Kanien’kehake (Mohawk), Onayotekaono (Oneida), Gana’dagwëni:io’geh (Onondaga), Guyohkohnyo (Cayuga), Onöndowága’ (Seneca), and Ska-ru-ren (Tuscarora) Nations. The confederacy is believed to have been founded by a prophet known as the Peacemaker with the help of Aionwatha sound bite, sometimes referred to as Hiawatha.  The exact date of the foundation of the confederacy is unknown but is thought to be one of the first of its kind in North America.

The following video includes a portion of the Peacemaker story as told by Jake Swamp, a Mohawk chief and spiritual leader.

Native American moccasins were designed for their specific environment. Hard-sole moccasins, are usually associated with the western plains and deserts areas.  Hard-soled moccasins were important to protect feet from harsh cactus or prairie-grass covered ground, and sharp rocks not worn down by water. Soft-soled moccasins were common in the Eastern Forests and were typically made from a single piece of leather, brought up around the foot and sew together along the instep. Soft-soled center seam and pucker-toe moccasins were well suited to travel through woodlands with leaf and pine-needle covered ground. Haudenosaunee moccasins are typically made of deer or elk leather and have soft soles, typical of woodland based groups. They tend to have have beaded cuffs and wide U-shaped vamps, often made of cloth. [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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