The wall label says this dress “reflected the status of its wearer.” What would the woman’s status be?
This garment would have been worn during a great assembly or medicine dance. The status of the woman would have been that of someone who participated in these ceremonies.
The really special details include glass beads, metal cones, and tinklers, as well as seed beads and dyed porcupine quills. The glass beads and metal tinklers were highly valued trade items, making them prestige ornaments and emblems of wealth.
Oh wow. Would these only be worn during ceremonies then?
Yes, in general they would be worn for special events, rather than as everyday wear.
What can you tell me about this costume? Is this the front side?
That is technically the back side of the piece. The front has the nicely scalloped strap embroidery that mirrors the scalloped embellishment along the bottom.
This is a rare example of Plains women's clothing during the early period of non-Native incursion into the midwest!
It was not an everyday garment. It would have been carefully treasured to be worn at special occasions such as a great assembly or medicine dance.
The bands of decoration along the lower part of the dress in orange, green, and blue are actually made from porcupine quills.
Is this made of leather?
It is made of leather, yes. More specifically, hide from a deer.