Plains Indian Art in the Maryhill Museum (Photo Diary)

The Great Plains is the huge area in the central portion of the North American continent which stretches from the Canadian provinces in the north, almost to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Mississippi River in the east. This is an area which contains many different kinds of habitat: flatland, dunes, hills, tablelands, stream valleys, and mountains. It is a dry region and lacks trees except along rivers and streams.

 photo P1090686_zpsl2gwj4f2.jpg The shaded area on the map shown above shows the Plains culture area.


Traditional Plains Indian footgear consisted primarily of moccasins: both soft-soled and hard-soled. Unlike the European footgear at the time of the European invasion, moccasins were made specifically for the right foot and the left foot. Moccasins were often decorated with quills and later with glass beads. In her book Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume, Josephine Paterek reports:

“Ceremonial moccasins were often painted and decorated with fringes and bands of quillwork.”

 photo P1090689_zpskfb07bnn.jpg  photo P1090690_zpsecmpipoe.jpg  photo P1090691_zpslb74pj06.jpg


 photo P1090692_zpsaocmcmj0.jpg Shown above is an Eastern Sioux man’s vest.  photo P1090693_zpspozcaknv.jpg Shown above is a man’s jacket. The bands of beadwork over the shoulders and down the sleeves is typical.  photo P1090702_zpsfikkwlgw.jpg Shown above is the type of headdress which has become almost stereotypical of Plains Indians.

Josephine Paterek reports:

“Except for occasional fur caps in the winter, the Plains Indians went bareheaded year-round. But they made use of ceremonial headgear. The best known is the famous feathered warbonnet, the trademark of many contemporary Indians, worn by some whose grandfathers never heard of it.”

 photo P1090704_zps6blit08s.jpg Shown above is a feathered trailer which was worn for dancing.  photo P1090707_zpslqfktg6l.jpg Shown above is a decorate breast plate made from hairpipes (bone beads). Hairpipes was a trade item made by the Euro-American traders specifically for sale to Indians. While breast plates were worn by both men and women, women worn a longer breast plate.


According to the Museum display:

“Several types of clubs were used by Plains people. They were originally used for warfare. As more effective weapons came into use, clubs become symbolic. They were carried by men in military societies as a badge of office and seen as a symbol of bravery.”

 photo P1090696_zps0brdyear.jpg

Musical Instruments

According to the Museum display:

“Native American drums were usually made by stretching skin over a wooden frame. The drum typically had only one head. Drumsticks were made by wrapping layers of leather around the end of a stick. Drums, flutes, whistle, rattles, and rasps were the major musical instruments used in North America.”

 photo P1090698_zps1e3qah7d.jpg A single head drum is shown above.  photo P1090706_zpslsoctpzp.jpg A double-headed drum is shown above.

Other Items

 photo P1090722_zpsc1ltcrig.jpg Shown above is a Crow woman’s saddle. It was made with a cottonwood frame covered with buckskin.  photo P1090700_zpsqtvkuyxv.jpg Shown above is a knife sheath.  photo P1090709_zpsfzosof00.jpg Shown above is a scraper made from elk antler. This would have been used in processing animal skins to remove flesh and hair. This scraper once had a metal blade attached to it.  photo P1090724_zpsufdqkm8u.jpg Shown above are some game sticks. These are made from buffalo bone. Game sticks, in sets of four, are used like dice.

Small Beaded Bags

Men often used small beaded bags for personal belongings.

 photo P1090714_zpsavj1hjvk.jpg  photo P1090715_zpse2mvgqp1.jpg

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