historic period pertains to the Native Americans since their
first contact with the Europeans. Tribes such as the
Cheyenne, Sioux, and Cherokee are all descendants of the
ancient people from the earlier time periods. So what
happened to the great empires of the Mississippian Period?
What become of the city at Spiro Mounds, the pottery of the
Caddo and Quapaw? While theories have speculated everything
from natural disasters to the depletion of land resources,
modern day anthropologists place the downfall of these
prehistoric civilizations on the diseases brought over from
Europe. Some demographers estimate that as many as nineteen
out of twenty Native Americans died of European diseases
like smallpox, influenza and tuberculosis.
were a symbolic, as well as artistic item for the Native
Americans. There are many different styles of headdress and
bonnets and worn for different occasions or special events.
The museum has several displays of different forms of Native
American headgear and other regalia. Eagle feather
headdresses represent a great tradition of the Native
American, but few people understand the meaning behind them.
Eagle feathers were only given for special feats or displays
of bravery and often warriors only attained a few in their
lifetime. Horned headdresses were used by Indians on the
western Great Plains. They were generally created by making
a cap of buffalo hide and then horns were added for
decoration. Only warriors of a certain stature were allowed
to wear these horned caps.
is perhaps the oldest form of Native American embroidery.
Porcupine quills are soaked to make them pliable, and the
flattened and dyed to give them color. The quills were then
arranged into patterns, usually geometric. Quillwork was the
preferential method of decorating moccasins, vests and other
clothing up into the mid 1800's when glass beads became
easily attainable through trade with Europeans.
have been use for decoration by the Native Americans
for thousands of years. Some of the first beads were
made of stone, shell and bone. European explorers
brought with them beads made of glass and used them
to barter with and gain favor with as gifts.
Introduced in the mid 1800's, very small glass beads
called "seed beads" (due to their size)
were traded by the Europeans in large numbers to the
local natives. Seed Beads were used to make very
intricate patterns, but were very costly for the
Native Americans to acquire and were often a sign of
someone's wealth or status in the tribe. Early glass
beads were manufactured cheaply in large quantities
and thus were inconsistent. Even in a single color,
you can see them vary in different hues and shapes.
If you look closely at these beads you will notice
some of these inconsistencies, some lighter, some
darker, and often with flaws. Often popular beads
were given descriptive names like "greasy
yellow", "Cheyenne pink" or
Dog Winter Count
counts are histories or calendars in which events are
recorded by pictures or symbols, with one picture for each
year or winter. These winter counts are often recorded on
Buffalo hide. One such winter count on display in the museum
is "Long Dog's" winter count. Lone Dog's winter
count records 70 years of memorable events for the Lakota
Sioux. When viewing the winter count in the museum, it
includes a reference guide to show you what each of these