Brule Sioux Collection, ca. 1910
The items were passed on from my great-great-grandfather to my father to me. They came from a ranch located in rural South Dakota, and it was where my great-great-grandfather was. And from the Sioux land certificate, it was from, I believe, 1901. During those times, he used to trade articles of food for clothing or ammunition for clothing.
And this is the certificate that he acquired the land with. It is dated, "1901." The native people in the area were the Brule Sioux. It was not uncommon for the early settlers to be working with them and to have a relationship with them, and this is what your collection exhibits. The first one here is what we refer to as a strike-a-light pouch, and this is the kind of object that would have been worn by a woman on her belt, and it would have contained the flint for making fires. The second object is this pair of moccasins, fully beaded, also from the early 1900s. But the real winner is this magnificent dress. It is made of woolen trade cloth, and then it's covered on the top with a cape that has dentalium shells sewn onto the cape in rows that go completely around the surface of the cape. Dentalium shells were originally trade items that were found off of the West Coast, near Vancouver Island, and they became very popular amongst Plains Indians in the late 1800s, early 1900s as sort of a substitute for beads. And you can see how well they used them. There's also a rhinestone brooch there, silk ribbons, here you have the woolen cloth, and then down at the bottom, additional trade items such as the red ribbon, metal sequins, little metal bells, and then the wonderful selvage edge on the bottom of the cloth. The strike-a-light pouch would have a retail value of about $500. The moccasins, in the range of $700 to $900. And this dress would have a retail value of about $5,000 to $7,000.
Wow. I'm kind of in shock. I know my dad's smiling down right now, because he just loved to look at this stuff.
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