Miami Indian Ribbonwork, ca. 1910
I believe it was made by Miami Indians of northern Indiana. The article stated that these were handed down from generation to generation from the Miami Indian chief Little Turtle and his daughter, who was one of the last Indian princesses. She died in the year of 1899. The outfit was handed down, supposedly, by Chief Little Turtle, who died in 1812. She handed it down to her white American doctor, who helped her out in the last years of her life, and then I picked it up at an auction of his granddaughter's estate.
So you've got a pretty good track record of where this material came from?
That's great. Did you pay a lot of money for it, or...?
Not at all, no.
Okay. This is clothing as an art form, and you're right, it's Miami. The Miami tribe lived in Ohio and Indiana and ended up in Oklahoma, where the tribe still is today. This art form is called "ribbonwork," and most people associate things like beadwork and painting and weaving with American Indian material, but this is actually pieced like an American quilt. First I want to talk about the moccasins. These are called front-seam moccasins. They're unusual, they're an Eastern tribe style, and you can see the single seam down the front. They were made out of one piece of hide, and all the cuff is decorated with ribbonwork. These leggings match the moccasins. It's very, very unusual to find a pair of leggings that match moccasins. These are man's leggings. Each piece was cut out and sewn together into this pattern, and then this was sewn onto a backing and then onto these cloth leggings. I don't know that I can say these date to 1812. They do date to before the Civil War, at least these ribbon strips do, and the moccasins. This cloth is early 20th century, but it is 20th century, but it's not unusual for these strips to be handed down through the generations. As things are worn out, it's used again. Graphically, just beautiful, very visual. I'm going to be pretty conservative, but this is a quick $8,000 for the leggings and the moccasins.
In the right place, they might bring a reasonable amount more than that.
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